The Surprising Psychology of Givers and Takers | Lemonade Blog
Oct 25, According to Wharton Professor Adam Grant in his book Give and Take, there are three Givers establish reputations and relationships that enhance their . We ask others for their advice, we ask them to take our perspective. Apr 3, In Give and Take, Wharton professor Adam Grant argues that givers by asking questions, signaling vulnerability, and seeking advice. . or never have developed a warm trusting relationship rather than a transactional one. Apr 10, New research from Wharton management professor Adam Grant reveals that You write in your book, Give and Take, that people differ in their preferences for reciprocity. but looking to help others by making an introduction, giving advice, providing . There are a couple of powerful ways to spot a taker.
According to Adam Grant, author of Give and Take, there are three different types of reciprocity styles: They try to gain as much as possible from their interactions while contributing as little as they can in return. Matchers like to preserve an equal balance of giving and taking. What can I contribute? Humans have an innate tendency to be reciprocal, and givers and takers represent two extremes.
But while givers are the most generous in our society, matchers play an important role.
They make sure what goes around, comes around. They reward givers for their generous behavior, and seek revenge when they, or others, are being mistreated. Givers, takers, and matchers at work Guess which of these types is the most successful at work. Turns out, givers tend to be the worst performers. So that must mean takers or matchers are the top performers, right? Yeah, you read right.
The worst and best performers at work are others-focused, and takers and matchers tend to land in the middle. Since takers develop reputations for putting others last, matchers tend to return the favor and try to knock them down, research shows. On the other hand, matchers root for givers to succeed, since they tend to match good deed with good deed.
Everyone loves, trusts, and supports givers since they add value to others and enrich the success of the people around them. Can you tell us a little bit about how a legendary teacher described in your book does this?
The man has taught over 35, students in his career. He has a remarkable gift for bringing out the best in his students. He sees every student who walks into his classroom as a diamond in the rough, waiting to be polished. Then he tries to make his classes as interesting as possible to bring out the best in those students. But what he finds over time is by making his material interesting, he does shift some people toward becoming more motivated and more hard-working.
This is true of coaches and leaders and managers everywhere. If you look at research by Benjamin Bloom and his colleagues about what made somebody a world-class tennis player or a world-class musician, or even a mathematician or a scientist of great acclaim, very rarely were those world-class candidates superior early on in their careers.
They looked pretty average when you started with them. But what they had in common was a coach, a teacher and a manager who believed in them and set their aspirations very high. That often created a self-fulfilling prophecy, by inspiring them to engage in more deliberate practice and to put in the 10, hours that we all know are critical to achieving expertise. Another really fascinating part of your book deals with what you call powerless communication.
What does that mean, and how is it useful in persuading and influencing others? When I was 25 and had first started teaching, I was asked to teach a leadership and motivation course for senior leaders in the U.
I was about half their age. I had just finished my doctorate, and I had relatively little experience. I felt like what I had to do was speak in the most confident possible tone to really establish my credibility. I came in, and I walked through all my credentials and described what my training was. Then, we went through the session. Afterward, I got the course feedback.
It was pretty depressing, to say the least. One of the comments that really got burned into my brain was that there was more knowledge in the audience than on the podium.
I decided to open up with a slightly different approach. I know what all of you are thinking right now. What can I possibly learn from a professor who is 12 years old? After a few seconds, everybody started laughing.
I guess what I learned from that experience was that sometimes humility and vulnerability in communication, what you might think of as powerless communication, is actually a stronger way to connect with your audience.
You hear an expert, and when the expert spills coffee all over himself, you actually like him more. It humanizes him, it gives you an authentic connection with him.
What can givers do to avoid burnout and to avoid becoming doormats? It seems those are two pretty big risks for people who see themselves as givers. In a way, being a matcher is a safer strategy. Knowing that givers end up at the bottom and the top means there are some risks associated with it. But I think that those risks actually can be mitigated with careful strategies.
A lot of it comes down to setting boundaries. Many givers confuse being helpful or being generous with being available for every person and every request all the time. Normally people believe that the alternative to being selfish — a trait that takers usually have — is being selfless. When I first started studying give and take, I thought that basically self-interest versus selflessness were on one spectrum. You had takers over here, who were very selfish.Relationships
You had givers, who were very selfless. You could score low and high on one, or on both.
Best Summary + PDF: Give and Take, by Adam Grant | Allen Cheng
The takers tend to be purely selfish. They will look for ways to help others that are either low cost to themselves or even high benefit to themselves, i. The vulnerabilities that you identified earlier of burnout and being a doormat are actually things that affect selfless givers more than others.
One final question, Adam. What practical advice, apart from reading your book, could you offer people who want to start applying these principles to their own lives? But when I take a step back, I think the first question is, what is your own style?
Best Summary + PDF: Give and Take, by Adam Grant
If you go to the Give and Take web site, Giveandtake. But, how do I treat most of the people most of the time? The second step is, there are some surprising opportunities, both for success and for meaning, in operating like a giver. Finding your own giver style is really powerful. Looking for ways to do that is probably the most sustainable path to success in the long term, both for individuals and organizations.
Adam, thank you so much for speaking with Knowledge Wharton. If you help these people, they will be grateful. Givers tend to see potential in all people as diamonds in the rough.
This inspires trust in their motives and creates a safe space where ideas are shared without fear of exploitation where a taker would claim credit or retaliation where a taker may reflexively shoot it down. Since most people are matchers, they reciprocate to the network. Takers can spur zero-sum behaviors that drag the whole group down, and people are wary of sharing ideas out of fear of exploitation promote a giving culture by publicly rewarding giving behaviors; creating a reciprocity ring; setting low bars for giving; making giving behavior public and expected.
Takers will have to cooperate or appear unhelpful, which threatens their well-being later. This reduces ego tensions, helps them gather more information, and makes for more effective sales and negotiations.
Start out with trust, punish when competed against, but forgive once in a while to allow redemption of behavior. Pure tit for tat can cause a vicious cycle of competition after a mishap giving leads to potential pitfalls, each with remedies: But in reality they tend to accept disconfirming evidence more than takers, who want to be right all the time and see mistakes as ego threats.
Michael Jordan example of not admitting he made a bad draft pick givers are prone to burnout if they practice selfless giving. To reduce this, make the impact of the giving clear; chunk giving into fewer time slots givers tend not to advocate for themselves for fear of offending the other party. They are more effective when advocating for other people like family or a cause since this aligns with their giving standpoint.
The Internet makes taker reputations hard to reverse. There are disagreeable givers and agreeable takers. They see only their pain and contributions, and not those of others. Takers like to get more than they give. They feel the world is a zero-sum game, for them to win means others must lose. They self-promote and make sure they get credit. They help others strategically, when the benefits to them outweigh their personal costs.
They help others when the benefits to others exceeds their personal costs. Matchers like to balance and giving exactly, practicing quid pro quo. Outside the workplace, giving is quite common, especially in marriages and friendships. But in the workplace, people tend to adopt a matcher style.
The roles are fluid. You may act like a taker when negotiating a job offer, a giver when mentoring an intern, and a matcher when sharing information with a colleague.
Give and Take Quotes
Interestingly, according to Give and Take, both the worst and the best performers in a firm tend to be givers. The givers at the bottom tend to give away too much time to get their work done, or were too nice to customers. But givers also fill out the top ranks. This tends to be true across industries, from medical school students, to engineering and salespeople.
In true zero-sum interactions, giving rarely pays off. Givers take some time to build goodwill, but eventually their reputations and network build their success in a virtuous cycle way. Here, helping other students meant necessarily that they earned lower on the scoring curve. But in later clinical years, where teamwork is necessary, the givers perform better with their peers and patients.
People prefer service providers doctors, lawyers, teachers who are givers to them, who will contribute value without claiming it back. But givers are sometimes afraid of giving in the workplace, as it may signal weakness or naivete.
When people perceive the workplace as zero-sum and other people as matchers, they want to respond in kind. This perpetuates a matching culture. President Lincoln was a giver, known to be among the least self-centered US presidents. In his first Senate run, he gave up his 2nd place position to support the 3rd place candidate to defeat the 1st place candidate he believed this was better for the state.
Venture capitalist David Hornik was cited as a main example of an inveterate giver. Examples of his giving include starting a blog and openly describing how venture capital works thus giving away trade secrets and weakening their position over companiesand running a conference called The Lobby where other VC firms were invited to meet potential investee companies.
He creates the world he wants to live in. Give and Take covers three aims: Let your reputation precede you.
Someone you help might unpredictably become your boss or client in the future. If you selectively target only people you believe will help you, you ignore all the unproven people whose connections would have turned out to be helpful.
Takers and matchers take advantage of the reciprocity tendency. They offer favors to people whose help they want in the future.
But there are two downsides. This ends up feeling like a transaction more than a meaningful gesture. Second, matchers tend to build smaller networks than givers or takers, because they help only people for whom there is an immediate benefit.
Thus, matchers tend to have a smaller network of quid pro quo ties. Surprisingly, people are much more likely to benefit from weak ties than from strong ties like your close colleagues and best friends. Strong ties tend to be people belonging to the same group whom you interact with consistently, thus limiting access to new ideas.
In contrast, weak ties provide access to information and people from different niches, facilitating creation of new leads. Givers and takers both tend to have more dormant ties than matchers, as explained above. But takers and matchers are disadvantaged in reactivating dormant ties. Takers may have carried a bad reputation with them, prompting even matchers and givers to punish the taker.
But they feel uncomfortable reaching out to weak ties, because they may already owe a debt to the weak tie, dislike the creation of a debt, or never have developed a warm trusting relationship rather than a transactional one.
In contrast, givers have major advantages in reconnecting.
Givers a history of helping you, so you feel happy when they contact you again. Givers tend to be asking for help for someone else, not themselves, prompting people to add value rather than trade value.
He built this network over decades, developing with every small gesture of kindness and a genuine desire to help people. For instance, Rifkin was a fan of Blogger, founded by Ev Williams. When Blogger ran out of money, he offered a contract to Ev to build something and keep Blogger afloat. Ev went on to co-found Twitter. In another example, Rifkin was connected to a venture capitalist through a connection made 4 years earlier, when he helped a punk rock fan who happened to be the founder of search engine Excite.
Adam Grant gives Rifkin as a clear success case of a giver. He now runs miles, a network of entrepreneurs, and he gleefully connects people in the group and answers questions even from the most hapless. As a last small example, he has written LinkedIn recommendations for others, compared to 49 inbound ones.
He lives by a maxim: The experiment was a cash giving scenario, where each person in a group of 4 had two choices: At the end of each round, the behaviors are revealed.
In this scenario, all people are better off if everyone gives. Despite this, some people were consistent givers, and this inspired other group members to give. Despite earning less on each personal transaction, they benefited overall by inspiring others to give to him and each other. Similarly, in ordinary life, giving inspires more giving from others, and ultimately some of this giving leads back to you. If a monkey climbed the ladder, all the monkeys were doused with water.
They quickly learned not to climb the ladder, and they quickly discouraged any monkey that tried to climb. Then, monkeys in the original group were swapped out for new ones that were never doused, but were conditioned to beat any monkey that climbed. Eventually the behavior persisted even with monkeys that never knew water was in the picture.
This may be apocryphal, but it illustrates the power of continuous feed-forward effects. A matcher would rarely initiate a favor without knowing what favor she wants in return. But a giver kicks off the cycle and establishes trust, which invites the good spirits of the matcher.
To avoid rejection, takers become good fakers. How do you tell a false taker?
They kiss up to superiors but treat peers and subordinates poorly as they believe these people have nothing to contribute. They tend to speak in a self-absorbed way, using singular pronouns like I vs plural pronouns like we. They put themselves front and center on websites and annual reports. Taker CEOs tend to earn more money than other senior executives in their companies. Taker CEOs earn 3x the salary and 7x stock of the next best person, compared to 1.
Takers tend to post more self-promoting information, feature arrogant quotes, rack up more Facebook friends to get favors, and post vainer pictures of themselves.
On the surface, Ken Lay of Enron looked like a giver. But reality showed he was actually a taker, having condoned schemes that inflated earnings and hid losses. How could you have detected taking behavior before this? Adam Grant presents this evidence: When giving a tour of Wall Street, he recruited employees to appear to be busy traders in an otherwise empty floor. These employees made fake phone calls. In so doing, Lay asked his subordinates to forsake their integrity for his gain, giving them a terrible experience with their manager.