Previously I outlined the basic concepts that are laid out at the beginning of the book Give and Take by Adam Grant. Now I am going into the rest of the book which takes a deeper look at what it means to be a giver in various scenarios.


1. Takers can wear the sheep’s clothing of givers to try and gain trust and help, but the ‘kiss up, kick down’ routine soon reveals itself. With CEOs it’s as simple as the size of the photograph in the annual report. You guessed it — the bigger the photo the more likely they are to be a taker.

2. Givers give without expectation of return, even to people they don’t know very well. Later, givers find there are opportunities to re-connect with these ‘weak ties’, which are people you know vaguely but have access to information and resources that are outside your usual circle. By giving they have expanded and benefited from their network.

3. Matchers equalize the playing ground. They will sacrifice their own interests to punish takers who act selfishly towards others, and they will go out of their way to reward givers who act generously toward others.

Givers who give moderately lose productivity because of the time spent giving. Givers who give more, gain more respect and trust and the team ensures increased productivity.


1. At first it seems that takers, who work independently and don’t share credit or work collaboratively with others, are more creative.

However, George Meyer, leader of the writing group for The Simpsons disproves this. He says, “I believe that collaboration is such a beautiful thing, especially in comedy. In a community of funny people, you get that rare synergy, jokes you never could have come up with on your own.”

2. Research over a two year period tracking 38,577 procedures demonstrated that surgeons do not get better with practice. They get better over time in a particular hospital. That is, the better they know and can work with the strengths and weaknesses of the surgical team, the better they get and the mortality rate reduces.

The evidence from studying financial analysts demonstrates that same trend; that after moving from the company where they were star performers their performance is average until they get to work well with the people in the new company.

3. Givers take on tasks that are in the group’s best interests, not only their own. In so doing they expand the pie in ways that benefit themselves as well as their groups. Extensive research reveals that people who give of their time and knowledge regularly to help their colleagues end up earning more raises and promotions in a wide range of settings, from banks to manufacturing companies.

When givers put a group’s interests ahead of their own, they signal that their primary goal is to benefit the group. As a result, givers earn the respect of their collaborators.

4. When givers share the credit, or hang back when credit is being apportioned they may lose visibility in the short term. But if you have the attitude that “you’ll shine if everyone’s shining” then the credit will rebound back to you.

People often don’t give credit because in their view they had the lion’s share of the responsibility and they just don’t see or don’t have access to the contribution of others. If you stop to evaluate what others have contributed you are likely to self-correct.

Identifying talent:

1. When leaders and teachers believe in the potential of their team or students, they act in ways that verify this potential. When instructors have high expectations of their trainees they provide more help, advice and feedback. Mistakes are not put down to lack of ability but are an opportunity to teach and train.

Evidence across a number of studies now demonstrates that a leader’s beliefs catalyze self-fulfilling prophecies in those they lead. In other words, people live up (or down) to the expectations of others.

Takers generally have low trust and low expectations of others generating a vicious cycle of poor development and lack of motivation. Matchers do inspire self-fulfilling prophecies but wait for evidence of potential before following through. Givers tend to be trusting and optimistic and by default view people as bloomers. Therefore, they nurture and build more talent.

2. Today there is compelling evidence that talent does not drive success. Interest precedes the development of talent. Motivation is in fact the reason, that people develop talent in the first place. In roles as leaders and mentors, givers resist the temptation to search for talent first. By recognizing that anyone can be a bloomer, givers focus their attention on motivation. However, there is something givers look for and that is grit — having passion and perseverance toward long-term goals. The research of psychologist Angela Duckworth demonstrates that beyond intelligence and aptitude, gritty people — by virtue of their interest, focus and drive — achieve higher performance.

3. It might seem obvious that givers would fall into the trap of over-investing in people who don’t have the talent or lose interest. The opposite is true. Takers hold onto people and even financial investments that are proving poor performers much longer because they need to protect their ego, in other words prove that they were right in the first place. Givers are more concerned for the organisation and so let go sooner. Givers also face the reality of the poor performance sooner because they listen to feedback and are open to outside advice.


1. Takers tend to worry that revealing weaknesses will compromise their dominance and authority. Givers are more comfortable expressing vulnerability. They’re interested in helping others, not gaining power over them. By making themselves vulnerable, givers can actually build prestige. People see them as more human and relatable. But establishing expertise is a prerequisite.

2. Givers, by being interested in others, ask questions and so get people to do what they love — talk about themselves. By learning more about other people they get to sell to them what they really value. People also build rapport with those who listen and are interested in them because they feel heard and respected.

3. People are often turned off by overt persuasion but tentative suggestions, or deferring to their opinion opens people up to your ideas and offers. Seeking advice is also surprisingly effective in getting what you want because when we ask people for advice, we grant them prestige, showing that we respect and admire their insights and expertise. In helping us they then become invested in our success. The proviso is, it must be genuine.

There are characteristics that separate successful givers from those who end up exhausted and unproductive:

1. Successful givers are just as ambitious as takers and matchers. They score high in other-interest and self-interest. They therefore are less prone to burning out and getting burned.

2. If givers do not see or believe that they are making an impact their motivation drops and they burn out. They will re-double their time and effort if they can see that what they are doing is making a difference.

3. When givers chunk their actions into blocks of time, rather than spread out haphazardly, they feel the impact of their giving and therefore are happier. There are indications that 100 hours of volunteering or giving beyond the usual requirements of life and work, is the optimal amount of time to feel the benefits of giving without burning out.

There are practices that prevent givers from being doormats:

1. Use judgment and discernment in assessing the sincerity of people asking for help.

2. Use empathy to understand the other person and where they’re coming from and so appeal to this aspect, rather than fall fowl of feeling sorry for them.

3. Successful givers adjust their actions to deal with takers so that they are not bullied or taken advantage of. They tend towards trust, but keep their own interests in mind, verifying if this person is in fact trustworthy or not.

4. If givers believe they are negotiating on behalf of others their results are better. When givers demonstrate greater assertiveness they earn respect.

5. In group settings givers are less likely to be exploited if giving is the norm. When everyone contributes the pie is larger, and givers are no longer stuck contributing more than they get.

Can we make the pie bigger so everyone gets a piece, or do we we have fight each other for the last slice?