Basic CMYKEarlier this month in the posting Givers, Takers and Matchers, I shared with you that I was reading a book called Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success. I had only completed the first few chapters and had learned that the social style that correlates most with success is giver. The twist was that givers are also the least successful. The open question to be revealed upon further reading was…what separates the two? What is the secret sauce? Having completed the book, I can now reveal the answer!

Without knowing it, I was stumbling upon the answer when I wrote, “Being purely selfless alone does not for success make.” In fact, being purely selfless is exactly what lands a giver at the bottom of the success ladder. Unsuccessful givers are termed “selfless givers” by author Grant and are distinguished from successful givers who are termed “otherish givers.” Otherish givers work in service of others AND in their own self interest, versus selfless givers who focus only on others at the expense of their own self interest.

Otherish givers focus on creating win-win outcomes. They are adept at expanding the pie because they can see the other’s perspective and create value for all. Otherish givers are trusting until they have reason not too be, empathetic when appropriate, and advocate for their needs as well as those of others. Finally, they are not afraid to ask for help and build networks so that they are not always carrying the burden alone.

Because they lack a healthy dose of self interest, selfless givers can be too trusting, empathetic and timid. They can end up exhausted and burnt out because they are uncomfortable receiving support. They can also be taken advantage of serving others, while their own needs go unmet.

And who do you think is most likely to take advantage of the selfless giver? The taker of course! Perhaps the most important thing an otherish giver does is recognize when dealing with a taker a modification of his or her preferred style is required! When faced with takers, otherish givers morph into matchers. Matchers give and take based upon the principle of fair exchange. In other words, as long as the taker is providing something of value the otherish giver will respond in kind…or operate as a matcher. This is what keeps the taker from taking advantage of the giver. Fascinating!

So what is the secret sauce of successful giving? Find the intersection where meeting your individual needs also benefits the needs of the collective and expand the pie. And recognize that even when you are able to find this sweet spot, there will still be takers for whom you will need to modify your giver tendencies and shift to matching behaviors.

While this was the main thesis of the book, Grant explores the benefits of giving across a number of dimensions including networking, collaborating, developing others, influencing, communications, and leadership. Come back and see future blogs where I will share some of these insights!

Update: Just posted a blog on communications…Powerless Communication?

Dr. Pam