Derek Sivers

Give and Take - by Adam M. Grant

Give and Take - by Adam M. Grant

ISBN: 0143124986
Date read: 2014-02-10
How strongly I recommend it: 6/10
(See my list of 320+ books, for more.)

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

If you feel you are too generous, or too greedy, or are wary and insist on reciprocation, consider reading this research-based look at the subject of these different personality types. Counter-intuitive findings.

my notes

Givers and takers differ in their attitudes and actions toward other people. If you’re a taker, you help others strategically, when the benefits to you outweigh the personal costs. If you’re a giver, you help whenever the benefits to others exceed the personal costs. Alternatively, you might not think about the personal costs at all, helping others without expecting anything in return. 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.

Being a giver doesn’t require extraordinary acts of sacrifice. It just involves a focus on acting in the interests of others.

Outside the workplace, this type of behavior is quite common.

Professionally, 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.

Research demonstrates that givers sink to the bottom of the success ladder. Going out of their way to help others prevented them from getting their own work done. They're too willing to sacrifice their own interests for the benefit of others.

The worst performers and the best performers are givers; takers and matchers are more likely to land in the middle.

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.

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

“Being a giver is not good for a 100-yard dash, but it’s valuable in a marathon .”

Our grandparents worked in jobs producing goods, and didn’t need to collaborate with other people, so it was fairly inefficient to be a giver. But now, a high percentage of people work in interconnected jobs providing services to others. The service sector places a premium on providers who have established relationships and reputations as givers.

When they anticipate self-interested behavior from others, people fear that they’ll be exploited if they operate like givers, so they conclude that pursuing a competitive orientation is the rational and appropriate thing to do.

“I get to create an environment where other people can get deals and build relationships, and I live in the world I want to live in.”

If you’ve ever put your guard up when meeting a new colleague, it’s probably because you thought you picked up on the scent of self-serving motives. When we see a taker coming, we protect ourselves by closing the door to our networks, withholding our trust and help. To avoid getting shut out, many takers become good fakers, acting generously so that they can waltz into our networks disguised as givers or matchers.

Ultimatum: he acts like a taker, keeping $8 and offering you only $2. What do you do? Why do we punish takers for being unfair? It’s not spite. We’re not getting revenge on takers for trying to take advantage of us. It’s about justice. If you’re a matcher, you’ll also punish takers for acting unfairly toward other people.

Gossip represents a widespread, efficient, and low-cost form of punishment.

If we create networks with the sole intention of getting something, we won’t succeed.

We can’t pursue the benefits of networks ; the benefits ensue from investments in meaningful activities and relationships.

Self-glorifying images, self-absorbed conversations, and sizable pay gaps can send accurate, reliable signals that someone is a taker.

The takers also had significantly more Facebook friends, racking up superficial connections so they could advertise their accomplishments and stay in touch to get favors.

Rifkin gives more than five times as much as he gets: on LinkedIn, he has written detailed recommendations for 265 different people.

The reciprocity norm can leave a bad taste, feeling more like a transaction than part of a meaningful relationship.

Strong ties provide bonds, but weak ties serve as bridges.

Our strong ties tend to travel in the same social circles and know about the same opportunities as we do. Weak ties are more likely to open up access to a different network.

The opposite of paranoia: pronoia. “the delusional belief that other people are plotting your well-being, or saying nice things about you behind your back.”

The older we get, the more dormant ties we have, and the more valuable they become.

Today, Adam Rifkin spends less time networking with new people than he did earlier in his career, focusing instead on a growing number of dormant ties. “Now my time is spent going back to people who I haven’t talked to in a while.”

His giving is governed by a simple rule: the five-minute favor. “You should be willing to do something that will take you five minutes or less for anybody.”

Despite being held in the highest esteem, the givers faced a problem: they paid a productivity price.

When we treat man as he is, we make him worse than he is; when we treat him as if he already were what he potentially could be, we make him what he should be.

Distinguishes between geniuses and genius makers: Geniuses tend to be takers: to promote their own interests, they “drain intelligence, energy, and capability” from others. Genius makers tend to be givers: they use their “intelligence to amplify the smarts and capabilities” of other people.

Surgeons didn’t get better with practice. They only got better at the specific hospital where they practiced. They weren’t getting better at performing coronary artery bypass grafts. They were becoming more familiar with particular nurses and anesthesiologists, learning about their strengths and weaknesses, habits, and styles.

Americans see independence as a symbol of strength, viewing interdependence as a sign of weakness.

How givers collaborate: they take on the tasks that are in the group’s best interest, not necessarily their own personal interests.

Jonas Salk made the same mistake as Frank Lloyd Wright: he saw himself as independent rather than interdependent. Then he was penalized by his colleagues for taking sole credit.

We have more access to information about our own contributions than the contributions of others. We see all of our own efforts, but we only witness a subset of our partners’ efforts.

People tend to overvalue their own contributions and undervalue those of others. This is responsibility bias.

Frank Lloyd Wright never “stood behind one and helped him up.” “You do a good job building your buildings in keeping with your ideal. But you have been weak in your support of others in their desire for this same attainment.”

The bloomers weren’t any smarter than their peers - the difference “was in the mind of the teacher.”

Some students who were randomly labeled as bloomers achieved more than 50 percent intelligence gains in a single year.

The trainees randomly labeled as high-potentials did significantly better.

When the platoon leaders believed in the trainees’ potential, they acted in ways that made this potential a reality. The platoon leaders who held high expectations of their trainees provided more help, career advice, and feedback to their trainees. When their trainees made mistakes, instead of assuming that they lacked ability, the platoon leaders saw opportunities for teaching and learning.

He met with each of the auditors and informed them that they were hired after a highly competitive selection process, management had high expectations for their success, and they had the skills to overcome challenges and be successful. Three weeks later, McNatt sent them a letter reinforcing this message. For a full month, the auditors who received McNatt’s message earned higher performance ratings.

Raymond Cattell developed an investment theory of intelligence. He proposed that interest is what drives people to invest their time and energy in developing particular skills and bases of knowledge. Today, we have compelling evidence that interest precedes the development of talent. It turns out that motivation is the reason that people develop talent in the first place. In the 1980s, the psychologist Benjamin Bloom led a landmark study of world-class musicians, scientists, and athletes.

They discovered an unexpected absence of raw talent. The study showed that early on most of the star pianists seemed “special only when comparing one child with others in the family or neighborhood.” They didn’t stand out on a local, regional, or national level - and they didn’t win many early competitions.

Another surprise: The pianists didn’t start out learning from piano teachers who were experts. They typically took their first piano lessons with a teacher who lived nearby in their neighborhoods.

The pianists gained their advantage by practicing many more hours than their peers.

When the pianists and their parents talked about their first piano teachers, they consistently focused on one theme: the teachers were caring, kind, and patient. The pianists looked forward to piano lessons because their first teachers made music interesting and fun.

The world-class pianists had their initial interest sparked by teachers who were givers.

“Setting high expectations is so important. You have to push people, make them stretch and do more than they think possible. When they take my tests, I want them thinking it was the toughest exam they’ve ever seen in their lives. It makes them better learners.” To encourage effort, he gives them a half dozen past exams for practice. “They need to make a significant investment, and it pays off. Forcing them to work harder than they ever have in their lives benefits them in the long run.”

By making themselves vulnerable, givers can actually build prestige. But there’s a twist: expressing vulnerability is only effective if the audience receives other signals establishing the speaker’s competence.

When the average candidate was clumsy, audiences liked him even less. But when the expert was clumsy, audiences liked him even more.

Psychologist James Pennebaker calls this the joy of talking: the more you talked, the more you like the group. The more you talk, the more you think you’ve learned about the group. By talking like a taker and dominating the conversation, you believe you’ve actually come to know the people around you, even though they barely spoke.

Communicating our thoughts is a supremely enjoyable learning experience.

He speaks softly and asks me some basic questions before he even pulls out a single tray of sunglasses from the case. Have I ever been here before? Do I have a prescription to fill? What’s my lifestyle like - do I play sports? He listens carefully to my answers and gives me some space to contemplate. He had the single highest giver score of any employee in the company. He was also the top-selling optician in the entire company.

Expert negotiators spent much more time trying to understand the other side’s perspective: questions made up over 21 percent of the experts’ comments.

We just want to make our own free choices, rather than having our decisions controlled by someone else. So if I tell you to go out and vote, you might resist. But when I ask if you’re planning to vote, you don’t feel like I’m trying to influence you. It’s an innocent query, and instead of resisting my influence, you reflect on it. “Well, I do care about being a good citizen, and I want to support my candidate.” This doesn’t feel like I’m persuading you. As Aronson explains, you’ve been convinced by someone you already like and trust: Yourself.

By asking people questions about their plans and intentions, we increase the likelihood that they actually act on these plans and intentions.

I ask about your plans to do something undesirable, questions don’t work. For example, are you planning to eat some chocolate-covered grasshoppers this month? After thinking about it, you’re probably even less likely to do it.

When givers ask for advice, it’s because they’re genuinely interested in learning from others. Matchers hold back on advice seeking for a different reason: they might owe something in return.

When we give our time, energy, knowledge, or resources to help others, we strive to maintain a belief that they’re worthy and deserving of our help. Seeking advice is a subtle way to invite someone to make a commitment to us.

As Benjamin Franklin wrote in his autobiography, “He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another than he whom you yourself have obliged.”

People love to be asked for advice.

Selfless givers are people with high other-interest and low self-interest. They give their time and energy without regard for their own needs, and they pay a price for it. Selfless giving is a form of pathological altruism. “An unhealthy focus on others to the detriment of one’s own needs,” such that in the process of trying to help others, givers end up harming themselves.

Bill Gates argued at the World Economic Forum, “there are two great forces of human nature : self-interest, and caring for others.”

Giver burnout: it has less to do with the amount of giving and more with the amount of feedback about the impact of that giving.

We believed that compassion fatigue was caused by expressing too much compassion. But they burn out when they’re working with people in need but are unable to help effectively.

Attaching a single patient’s photo to a CT exam increased diagnostic accuracy by 46 percent. And roughly 80 percent of the key diagnostic findings came only when the radiologists saw the patient’s photo.

When the radiologists saw the patient’s photo, they felt more empathy. By encouraging empathy, the photos motivated the radiologists to conduct their diagnoses more carefully. Their reports were 29 percent longer when the CT exams included patient photos.

When people know how their work makes a difference, they feel energized to contribute more.

when people give continually without concern for their own well-being, they’re at risk for poor mental and physical health. Yet when they give in a more otherish fashion, demonstrating substantial concern for themselves as well as others, they no longer experience health costs.

Happiness increased when people performed all five giving acts in a single day, rather than doing one a day. Spreading them over the course of a week might have diminished their salience and power or made them less distinguishable from participants’ habitual kind behavior..

Turning these selfless givers into otherish givers: instead of sprinkling their giving, they could chunk it. Create dedicated windows for quiet time and interaction time.

Burnout didn’t decrease effort across the board. One place where it actually increased their effort when they felt burned out: helping others. When the firefighters experienced signs of burnout, they were more likely to go out of their way to help colleagues with heavy workloads, share new knowledge with supervisors, give advice to newer colleagues, and even listen to colleagues’ problems.

why many takers and matchers started giving on Freecycle. It’s an efficient way to get rid of things they don’t want and probably can’t sell on Craigslist. But soon, Beal knows from personal experience, people who initially give things away for selfish reasons begin to care about the people they’re helping.

Recruited fans of the Manchester United soccer team for a study. When walking from one building to another, the soccer fans saw a runner slip on a grass bank, where he fell holding his ankle and screaming in pain. Would they help him? It depended on the T-shirt that he was wearing. When he wore a plain T-shirt, only 33 percent helped. When he wore a Manchester United T-shirt, 92 percent helped.

If we help people who belong to our group, we’re also helping ourselves, as we’re making the group better off.