G is for Adam Grant’s Work On Givers, Matchers And Takers

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Adam is a professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. During his research he has explored the different operating styles that people follow in their daily lives and work.

Describing these in his book Give and Take, he says that people can choose to pursue the following styles.

Givers. They aim to give to other people and help them succeed.  

Matchers. They aim to match other people in terms of giving and taking on a relatively equal basis.

Takers. They aim to take from other people in ways that benefit themselves.

Here are excerpts from the Give and Take website that provides an introduction to his book. You can discover more via the following link.



Give and Take changes our fundamental ideas about how to succeed – at work and in life.

For generations, we have focused on the individual drivers of success: passion, hard work, talent, and luck. But in today’s dramatically reconfigured world, success is increasingly dependent on how we interact with others.  

Give and Take illuminates what effective networking, collaboration, influence, negotiation, and leadership skills have in common. 

In professional interactions, it turns out that 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. 

These styles have a dramatic impact on success. Although some givers get exploited and burn out, the rest achieve extraordinary results across a wide range of industries.

This visionary approach to success has the power to transform not just individuals and groups, but entire organizations and communities.

Here is a video of talk that Adam gave to the RSA about this approach.

The website Brain Pickings also provides an excellent introduction to Adam’s work. Here are excerpts from the article that you can find via the following link.


Takers have a distinctive signature: they like to get more than they give. They tilt reciprocity in their own favor, putting their own interests ahead of others’ needs.

They feel that to succeed, they need to be better than others. To prove their competence, they self-promote and make sure they get plenty of credit for their efforts.

Givers tilt reciprocity in the other direction, preferring to give more than they get.

Whereas takers tend to be self-focused, evaluating what other people can offer them, givers are other-focused, paying more attention to what other people need from them.

If you’re a giver at work, you simply strive to be generous in sharing your time, energy, knowledge, skills, ideas, and connections with other people who can benefit from them. 

In the workplace, however, few of us are purely givers or takers — rather, what dominates is a third style:

We become Matchers, striving to preserve an equal balance of giving and getting. Matchers operate on the principle of fairness: when they help others, they protect themselves by seeking reciprocity.  

If you’re a matcher, you believe in tit for tat, and your relationships are governed by even exchanges of favors.

Giving, taking, and matching are three fundamental styles of social interaction, but the lines between them aren’t hard and fast.

You might find that you shift from one reciprocity style to another as you travel across different work roles and relationships.

But evidence shows that at work, the vast majority of people develop a primary reciprocity style, which captures how they approach most of the people most of the time.

And this primary style can play as much of a role in our success as hard work, talent, and luck.

Givers, takers, and matchers all can – and do – achieve success.

But there’s something distinctive that happens when givers succeed: it spreads and cascades.

When takers win, there’s usually someone else who loses. Research shows that people tend to envy successful takers and look for ways to knock them down a notch.  

In contrast, when [givers] win, people are rooting for them and supporting them, rather than gunning for them.  

Givers succeed in a way that creates a ripple effect, enhancing the success of people around them.

Imagine you want to continue being a giver. How can you do this in your own way? You may want to do this by encouraging people, mentoring, coaching, passing on knowledge or whatever.

Giving to people can be extremely rewarding, but you also need encouragement. It will be important to get this support, rather than become a victim.

People often gain strength, however, from finding something to serve. As Rabrindranath Tagore said:

I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe the specific things you can do to be a giver in the future. 

Describe the specific benefits of being a giver and doing these things.

Describe the specific things you can do to build on the pluses and manage any potential minuses involved in being a giver.

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