Adam Grant – Give and Take

Giving, taking, and matching are three fundamental styles of interacting with others. Givers can be at the bottom of success, but givers can also excel. Grant dives into these differences.

Givers who excel are willing to ask for help when they need it.

Recognize takers:

  • Takers can be fakers (act like givers)
  • Talk in singular (I-form) about their company
  • Geniuses tend to be takers; to promote their own interests they drain intelligence, energy and capacity from others
  • They rarely cross the perspective gap (are just focused on their own viewpoints)

Signs of (destructive) takers CEO

  • Prominent picture of themselves in annual reports
  • Earn far more money than other senior executives

Characteristics of givers:

  • Colleagues don’t feel insecure
  • Show genuine interest in others; ask questions
  • By making themselves vulnerable, givers can build prestige. But the audience must also receive other signals the speaker’s competence.
  • Givers are top sellers, and a key reason is powerless communication. Asking questions is a form of powerless communication that givers adopt naturally.
  • Traps for givers: being too trusting, too empathetic, and too timid. They need to screen for sincerity. Instead of contemplating for the other’s (especially when the other is a taker) feelings, givers need to consider what the other is thinking.
  • When dealing with takers, givers need to shift their strategy to those of matchers.
  • Givers are bad in negotiating for their own interests. They can dramatically improve this when they imagine they negotiate on behalf of others. For salary for example, take benefitting family into account.

Other observations:

  • People tend to overvalue their own contributions and undervalue those of others.
  • Label students/employees openly as “bloomers” and they actually start to perform better (self-fulfilling prophecy). Givers tend to see people as bloomers naturally. Takers tend to place little trust in other people. Matchers wait for signs of high potential.
  • Success doesn’t measure a human being, effort does. Grit: having passion and perseverance toward long-term goals.
  • Setting high expectations is important. You have to push people, make them stretch and do more than they think possible.
  • There are 2 fundamental paths to influence: dominance and prestige. Prestige normally has a more lasting value.
  • An expert who acts clumsy is like by the audience.
  • In negotiations givers can ask for advice: “if you were in my shoes, what would you do?”. Advice seeking is a surprisingly effective strategy for exercising influence when we lack authority. It’s a subtle way to invite someone to make a commitment to us. The catch is that advice seeking only works if it’s genuine.
  • There are two great forces of human nature: self-interest, and caring for others, and people are most successful when they are driven by a “hybrid engine” of the two. If takers are selfish and failed givers are selfless, successful givers are otherish: they care about benefiting others, but they also have ambitious goals for advancing their own interests.
  • The perception of impact serves as a buffer against stress, enabling employees to avoid burnout and maintain their motivation and performance. High school teachers who perceived their jobs as stressful and demanding reported significantly greater burnout. But upon closer inspection, job stress was only linked to higher burnout for teachers who felt they didn’t make a difference. A sense of lasting impact protected against stress, preventing exhaustion.
  • This feeling significantly increases when the “giving acts” (like volunteering work) is concentrated on one day, instead of spread over the entire week.
  • There’s a wealth of evidence that the ensuing happiness can motivate people to work harder, longer, smarter, and more effectively.
  • Man seems to prefer people, places, and things that remind us of ourselves. But we gravitate toward people, places and products with which we share an uncommon commonality.
  • If we help our group, we help ourselves. Activating a common identity make people givers (within the group).
  • People donate more money to charity when the phrase “even a penny will help” is added to a request.
  • A powerful way to give is to help others works on tasks that are more interesting, meaningful, or developmental.