Givers, Takers and the insight into self and people we work with

With ‘Give and Take’, now I have read all three of Adam Grant’s books. I started with Originals. Was impressed and I started following him on LinkedIn and Twitter. Then I read Option B a few weeks back which he cowrote with Sheryl Sandberg and I have also been a regular listener of his amazing Work Life Podcast. And now Give and Take which I believe was his first book.

I began reading it with a convinced belief that I was a Giver. ‘Taker’ sounded something I did not want to associate with, Givers looked great. But the book had a few surprises and shake ups for me. While I was able to identify myself as a giver many times, there are times when I connected with a Taker. But then I pacified myself that may be I am just a matcher. Taker for me sounded too harsh.

As the book progressed, it was clear that it is not as simple as that and since we are dealing with people, aspirations and ambitions and emotions, it can get interestingly complex.

A few weeks back I was having a chat with my COO and I told him about the book. He is a Wharton Graduate himself and Adam as you know is a celebrated Wharton Professor. He asked me what I was and I told him what I just wrote above. He said “Hmm… I think you are more a Giver”… I liked hearing that. But then he said something very interesting about himself. He said..

“I am a Giver when in a group of givers and I can be a Taker when in a group of takers… just if needed”

That was an interesting piece for me, because even the book says how taxing it can be for a ‘Giver’ in a group of takers. While I am a strong believer that people cannot be fully compartmentalized, we can surely see people who lean more on one trait or the other.

Another interesting aspect Adam brings is there can be Takers who are Fakers and show themselves as a Giver. I knew a Taker once who always reminded me he was a Giver, but that was years ago.

It is important for us to know how we navigate the complex personas that work amongst us and Give and Take is not about telling you who is what, but it is more of telling you that the fundamental fact is that in the long run a Giver creates a more trusted life; both professionally and personally. Giving makes givers happy in both the short and long run and Taking just excites takers like caffeine and is will not last long.

But Givers can have setbacks and even the people around them can misunderstand them, some might even fail to clinch deals or jobs, for not having some of the aggressive elements of a Taker. But be assured, Giving is the right thing to do.

Be a keen observer of people; Observe not to judge or run them over, but observe so you can be of value to them and give. You will always win.

But know that there are Takers around you. There are also instances where Takers transform to Givers. So if you think you are a Taker in anyway, that is not the end of the road. You can be a Giver too.

This is a recommended reading for everyone working in complex organizations and have to deal with people interactions everyday.

Categories: Book Reviews, Books, Reviews

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