Are you a Giver, Matcher or Taker?



Yesterday, I attended the Society of Professional Women’s (SPW)  networking lunch. The guest speaker was Adam Grant , PhD author of Give and Take a Revolutionary Approach to Success and professor at The Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania . Grant has an impressive resume as one of the world’s 40 best professors under 40, and a leading expert on how organizations can motivate employees, develop talent and align teams to achieve success.

“Givers , matchers and takers are people with different styles of reciprocity.” Grant explained.” Givers enjoy helping others without strings attached, takers do not return favors and just take what they can get and matchers see an “eye for and eye and tooth for a tooth” in other words,  “I give you this…you give me that”.

Adam Grant’s research shows that givers  can be losers over short term : engineers are less productive, sales people lose money and medical students don’t fare as well. Overall, givers are so busy helping others that they forget to fend for themselves.

A girlfriend once said to me in an exasperated voice “ Emma you are such a giver.” The exasperation, I speculate, comes from the fact that I do give freely and often do not ask for anything in return and seemingly lose out. Grant’s research luckily defends my actions.

In the long run – e.g. the marathon – Grant explains that givers in the end win the race. They love learning, have motivation for a higher purpose, have deeper and more trusting relationships and lead well by seeing more potential in others.

Being a giver does not mean you have to drop everything and just constantly give to others- that would lead to failure (note to self). Successful giving involves blocking out a periods of time on the calendar and making plans to help someone during that specific time.  Something I need to work on!

To be a successful giver Grant advises:

1.    Recognize and thank the givers within your company.

2.   Don’t be afraid to ask others for help. For example a successful strategy includes making a request for help with some of your weaker ties – people you do not know- that will force you to travel in different circles and benefit more from their help.

3.   Another strategy givers can do for success is to dig up old contacts and re-connect with whom you used to know- by tapping into those who already trust you ensures the likelihood they can help you as well.


To find out if you are a giver, matcher or taker take this quiz:  PS. My results show I am pretty much equally a giver and matcher.


Ref: Grant, A.M.,  ( 2013) Give and Take, a Revolutionary Approach to Success, Penguin Group, New York, NY.