Are you a giver or a taker?


By Stephane Leblanc, Founder and CEO, International Centre for Conscious Leadership

In our work and in our personal lives, we are in relationships with many people and it is common to help each other and to ask for help. It is also common to reach out to people we know or some we don't know and ask for a favour.

In my work, I have developed a good network and an online presence and I am also very clear about what I stand for. Every week, some new people reach out to me with the intention to collaborate. As I meet and discuss with these people, I see that some people are very generous and offer to help me with our conscious leadership movement and others simply want to use my network to get more clients for them without any intention of helping me in any way.

This made me think of how, in the past, I may have reached out to people with larger network than mine asking for their help, without first having offered my help.

As generosity is important for me, I usually help people whose mission resonates with mine. At the same time, I have been disappointed a few times about some people version of collaboration.

According to Adam Grant, author of Give and Take, there are three different types of reciprocity styles: givers, takers, and matchers.

Givers are focused on the needs of others and tend to provide support to others with no expectation of receiving anything in return. They ask themselves, “How can I add value for this person? What can I contribute?

Takers are focused on themselves and put their own interests ahead of the needs of others. They try to gain as much as possible from their interactions while contributing as little as they can in return. They ask themselves: "How can I use others to reach my goals."

Matchers like to preserve an equal balance between giving and taking. Their mindset is: “If you take from me, I will take from you. If you give to me, I will give to you.”

Do you know what type you are?

According to Grant, most people are matchers. Humans have an innate tendency to be reciprocal, and givers and takers represent two extremes.

While givers are the most generous people in our society, matchers play an important role. They make sure what goes around, comes around. They reward givers for their generous behavior, and they try to make things right when they, or others, are taken advantage of.

In a work context, can you guess which one of these types is much more successful?

According to grant, givers tend to be the worst performers. They’re at a disadvantage because they sacrifice their own success to help others succeed.

So it would be normal for you to conclude that takers or matchers are the top performers at work right? But this is not the case.

According to Grant, the givers are the top performers. The worst and best performers at work are focused on others, and takers and matchers tend to land in the middle.

How can this be? Since takers develop reputations for putting others last, matchers tend to return the favour and try to knock them down. This is why takers rarely succeed in building strong relationships and networks.

Matchers also want 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.

In short, givers succeed because their giving leads to quality relationships, which benefit them in the long run and they are also happier than takers with such strong relationships.

If being a giver creates stronger relationships, why are some givers at the bottom of the success ladder, while others are at the top?

According to Grant, there are two types of givers: ‘selfless’ givers and ‘otherish’ givers.

Selfless givers are the ones who always drop everything to help people, which the results that they tend to fall behind on their own work as they give more importance to other's needs than their own. Because of this, they usually end up at the bottom of the success ladder.

On the other hand, otherish givers are smarter and more strategic about their giving. While they are just as much givers as the selfless givers, they have learned to successfully navigate a world with matchers and takers, so they don't allow others to take advantage of them.

Are you a giver, a taker or a matcher?