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Are You A Giver Or A Taker At Work?

Are You A Giver Or A Taker At Work?

BY Michelle McQuaid

When it comes to how you interact with other people at work are you a giver, a taker or a matcher? And does it even matter?

When you’re in giver mode, you look for ways to be helpful to others. When you’re in matcher mode, you look to trade evenly with other people, seeking an even exchange of favors. And when you’re in taker mode, you focus on getting as much as possible from other people.

These preferences aren’t about money but about the attitudes and actions that shape your interactions with others and a growing body of evidence suggests they play as much of a role in our success as hard work, talent and luck.

So is it true that when it comes to work nice guys and girls always finish last?

Do Givers Finish Last?

Professor Adam Grant and his colleagues have found in fact givers finish last … and they also finish first.  Let me explain.

The research suggests that many givers sink to the bottom of the success ladder. Unfortunately givers are often just too caring, too trusting, and too willing to sacrifice their own interests for the benefits of others.

In fact, there’s even evidence that compared with takers, on average, some givers earn 14 percent less money, have twice the risk of becoming victims of crime, and are judged as 22 percent less powerful and dominant by their colleagues.

But the research also suggests that it’s givers who climb to the top of the success ladder.


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

In contrast, when givers succeed they do so in a way that creates a ripple effect, enhancing the success of the people around them. Givers create value, instead of just claiming it and as a result people are rooting for them and supporting their success.

But to avoid burning themselves out, givers need to be able to set boundaries, be aware of the takers and be as concerned with their own wellbeing as that of others and in this episode of Chelle McQuaid TV, I’ll show you exactly how you can do this.

How To Be A More Successful Giver At Work

The first step is taking the time to understand more of what other people need, then figure our how your expertise, resources and connections might assist them. If they offer to pay it back, ask them to pay it forward instead.

A great way to do this is what Adam calls the Five Minute Favor which seeks short, high-impact ways of contributing to others such as sharing a timely article or introducing two people who might be able to support each other’s goals.

Secondly, instead of helping all of the people all of the time, try to specialize in a particular kind of helping. For example, if you become known as the go-to-person for advice on asking for a promotion then people will seek you out for this unique expertise, rather than lots of other random favors.

Finally, try picking an unpopular task in your group and search for ways to make it more interesting or meaningful. This is usually appreciated by everyone in your team. For example, if no one wants to read the new HR policies, use your strength of curiosity to trawl through the documents and give your team a high level summary.

You can take Adam’s free survey to see if you’re a giver, taker or matcher at work or watch him talk about impact of givers on these videos or grab a copy of his book Give & Take for more.

What are your favorite ways to give at work?

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