Are you a Giver or a Taker in life?


We all run into situations in our lives where we meet people with different motivations and behaviors. For generations, we have focused on the individual drivers of success: passion, hard work, talent, and luck. But today, success is increasingly dependent on how we interact with others. It turns out that at work, most people operate as either takers, matchers, or givers. Whereas takers strive to get as much as possible from others and matchers aim to trade evenly, givers are the rare breed of people who contribute to others without expecting anything in return.

I am sure you have encountered all three categories at some point in your career. Understanding the consequences of each type is important for managing expectations. Looking back on my own career, I have met lots of givers but also lots of takers. The takers won't be longlived within a team or company as others will soon realize that they suck your energy and keep advancing themselves by using others. I have also worked with selfless givers who have shaped me into what I am today and what I have learned about software engineering, productization of solutions, running a business, channel development, and overall being a leader.

The book "Give and Take" by Adam Grant is by Wharton's youngest tenured professor. Grant's own pioneering research shows that these styles have a surprising impact on success. Although some givers get exploited and burn out, the rest achieve extraordinary results across a wide range of industries.

In short, Grant describes the three different categories as follows:

🎯Givers are generous and giving as a way of being, rather than to get something specific from their actions.

🎯Takers are interested in getting more than they give. They typically see the world as a hyper-competitive place and will look out for themselves first.

🎯Matchers live by the tit-for-tat policy. They believe in a balanced exchange of favors.

According to Grant, giving pays off in the long term. As a giver, you will build a better reputation and a broader set of relationships over time. Also, by practicing powerless communication, you can get support when you need it. In asking for advice, you express vulnerability, encourage the other person to take your perspective, learn, and demonstrate commitment.

It is also important to recognize that giving style isn't set in stone. It is fluid. We shape and change it constantly, even without realizing it. When you give and see the impact of your "giving", it gives you a feeling of accomplishment.

According to Grant's extensive research, givers are the best way to succeed in business and life, contrary to popular belief. The three lessons that Grant provides are:

⭐Whether we give or take depends on the specific situation.

⭐Give away your power in conversation to get others on your side.

⭐Givers can’t burn out if they see how big their impact is.

It is important to find a balance in your giving. Personally, I feel that when giving, the person shows some interest in whatever the topic is. I love to educate people on topics that I am passionate about, such as AI and how it changes business models, how to monetize AI solutions, etc.

I recommend that you ask yourself whether you are a giver, taker, or matcher and why your response is whatever it is. You should also identify the "takers" and recognize their motivations and whether you should avoid them.

I recommend this book in whatever phase of your career you are in. It encourages you to think and reflect on the people you work with and also consider whether you should change your way of interacting with people.

If you would like to get my book recommendations to your inbox on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, you can subscribe to them here on LinkedIn


Dr. Petri I. Salonen

Leave a Comment