Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Givers and Takers

9 February 2016


For some time, there has been a topic on my list which I did not really know how to approach. I do feel that it’s an important one though. It’s about the difference between Givers and Takers. Today I noticed “Give and Take“, a book by Adam GrantWharton professor of Management and writer at NYT. He even mentions a third category in his book: Matchers.

I consider myself a Giver – at home, at work, or anywhere else – and that may be one of the main reasons why my energy has been draining again lately. I consider these energy drains as the most dangerous aspect of being a Giver. My current (and previous) relationship is (was) with another Giver and in general that works well. The one before with a Taker was not a good combination.

Obviously, these roles are not fixed in time. Even Givers may become Takers for a while in order to compensate for certain events in their life and to restore their balance. And even Takers may act like Givers for a while but with a different perspective: “If you’re a taker, you help others strategically, when the benefits to you outweigh the personal costs” (source). Italic markings are mine.

BrainPickings: “Outside the workplace, Grant argues by citing Yale psychologist Margaret Clark’s research, most of us are givers in close relationships like marriages and friendships, contributing without preoccupation with keeping score”. It’s important to note that Margaret Clark does restrict giving to “high quality intimate relationships” (source). Else, we probably do keep score in the Ledger of our relationship (see my 10 January 2016 blog).

Given the byline of Adam Grant’s book (“a revolutionary approach to success”) and his teaching on Management, most of his book is about Givers and Takers (and Matchers) at the workplace. In his view, there are three human routes to success at the workplace: give, take and match (reciprocity). The outcome is different than what you would expect which may explain the book’s success.

The worst performers and the best performers are givers. Matchers and takers are more likely to be in the middle. This needs some explanation.

The characteristics of takers may well drive them quickly to the top but those same characteristics will also lead to their imminent fall. In general, people have little empathy for leaders who are only working in their self interest, busy with self promotion, and getting plenty of personal credit for – essentially – team results.

The explanation for givers is twofold. There is a first category who easily gets ignored and neglected when it comes to measuring success at the workplace. Partly, because takers may claim the credit for the work done by givers. Partly, because “it appears that givers are just too caring, too trusting, and too willing to sacrifice their own interests for the benefit of others”. The second category of givers is different: “it turns out that successful givers are every bit as ambitious as takers and matchers. They simply have a different way of pursuing their goals”. (BrainPickings)

The above reminds me of some conversations with my former friend when she complained about missed promotions and not being acknowledged at work for her contributions. To some extent, I was able to help her by explaining my approach at work. I have always been very ambitious, driven, determined, passionate and successful and also with compassion for others. In my view, success is always a team effort and failure is my responsibility, even without accountability. I miss this as, in my view, I stil haven’t given the best that I got.

Anita Baker – Giving You The Best That I Got (1988) – artist, lyrics, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Ain’t there something I can give you

In exchange for everything you give to me

Read my mind and make me feel just fine

When I think my peace of mind is out of reach

The scales are sometimes unbalanced

And you bear the weight of all that has to be

I hope you see that you can lean on me

And together we can calm a stormy sea


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