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Photo: Amazon

In this book, the author divides people into three types: givers, matchers and takers. Givers are those who believe in doing things for common good, matchers only give if they get and takers just…take (we all are a mix of all  three but Adam says that we have a dominant style. Also, we may have different styles in different areas of life). We are taught that givers will end up as losers and takers will rule the world, right? Well, Adam has done a lot of research and he acknowledges that many givers end up at the bottom. So who is the winner? His most surprising find is that many people who end up at the top are also givers. This is absurd, right? Before we go any further it’s important to note here that he is not trying to say that there is only ONE kind of success. He is trying to present counter evidence to the belief that nice guys finish last. Givers don’t care much about ‘beating’ others but Adam says that even though they are indifferent about competition, many givers end up beating takers and matchers.

Most of us have been taught since childhood to be careful, to not trust people, because the world is a BAD place. Adam doesn’t deny this. But what he presents is a fascinating difference, which is the reason why some givers are at the bottom and others are at the top. We mostly believe that givers are doormats, who don’t care about their self-interest. However, Adam says that successful givers have both self-interest and compassion. And this is what stops them from becoming a doormat or burning out. Successful givers have boundaries. But why are givers more successful? Givers’ focus is not on being number one, their focus is on how they can be more valuable to the society, organization etc. Adam gives example of sales where it is assumed that salesmen have to be ‘ruthless’, ‘selfless’ takers. However, Adam has plenty of examples of givers, who are not afraid to reveal their imperfections, vulnerabilities, and are still successful. Since giving salesmen are interested in helping others, they listen and genuinely care about them. They also listen more and this gives them more insights into consumer behavior. Adam says that givers also have their own unique place in the world and one doesn’t have to become inauthentic because people place a lot of importance in integrity and sincerity too.

Adam presents an innovative technique for givers who exhaust themselves in the process of helping others. The problem with givers is that they feel guilty about being assertive and standing up for their rights. He says that women often settle for less because they are expected to be givers. So here’s a research that can help you with this: When women were asked to negotiate for themselves, most of them settled for less. But when women were asked to negotiate for a friend or a closed one, they quoted a price that most men quote. So, if you are a giver who struggles to be assertive, assume that you are representing someone else. Adam gives an example of a guy who never asked for higher pay even though he deserved it…because he is a giver. One day, he realized that he doesn’t have to see his demands as selfish. He then decided to become an ‘agent’ for his family because if he benefits, his family will benefit too . So then, he is not just asking for himself, right? If you happen to be an Indian whose parents use their ‘sacrifices’ as a weapon to get you married, then you can remember that doing what you love is not just beneficial to you.

This book has so many brilliant insights that one post is just not enough. More on this later.

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3 thoughts on “Give and Take by Adam Grant

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