- Audible Audiobook
- Listening Length: 11 hours and 50 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Penguin Audio
- Audible.com Release Date: April 9, 2013
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00BMBANYY
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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So, let me explain.
There are three broad styles of interpersonal dealing: taking, matching, and giving. Takers are those who try to take more than they give. Matchers are those who try to give and take proportaionally and conditionally. Givers are those who give more than they take. Takers are primarily self-oriented, matchers are other-oriented as a means to being self-oriented (I'll help you when I think you will help me) and givers are primarily other-oriented.
Here's the counter-intuitive part. If we look at the most successful people - the happiest, the most likely to be promoted, etc - they are generally givers, and if we look at the least successful, they too often tend to be givers. (Takers do moderately well, but over time, few want to deal with them. Matchers do okay too.)
This book is an attempt to explain why being a giver is a good 'strategy' for success, as well as under what conditions giving is a failing 'strategy.' First, the positive: simply put, people appreciate givers and giving often makes people want to give back. Since givers help others and often put others' needs as a priority, givers often garner (without deliberately trying - AND THAT IS KEY!) a network of support from others they've helped. Want to communicate most effectively? Ask more questions to others than you give answers, ask for advice, and be aware of how you can help others. Want to bring out the best in people around you? Believe in them by recognizing and appreciating their strengths and contributions. Want to be successful? Don't think of personal relations as zero-sum games (where others can only win to the degree you lose), but positive sum games (if you win, it doesn't mean that I lose, but we can all win together).
It sounds obvious, right? But it isn't. Even when we may be givers in our personal lives, we often become matchers or takers at work. Even if the success of a giving strategy seems intuitive, it is equally intuitive that getting ahead requires receiving as much as or more than you get, spending most of your time working on things that will obviously benefit you, and not spending more time assisting others at work than getting your own stuff done. But Grant cites a growing body of research showing that giving - under the right conditions - really is the best overall 'strategy.'
Of course, I said "under the right conditions." What are those conditions? Well, for starters, one must give with some sort of purpose. Those who don't see some sort of result from their giving often burn out. (So, fundraising telemarketers burn out less when they can talk with those who their efforts have helped, and teachers burn out less when they see what their more successful students go on to do.) Also, one must give to others and things that the giver is interested in. (Volunteering for projects and to help people I care about is much easier and fun than for those I care little about.) Lastly, one must watch out not to be exploited by takers, who can often seem like givers in their agreeableness, but be exploitative in the end. (And Grant gives some good advice on how to detect real givers versus takers who are good actors.)
So, all of this is what Grant calls 'otheerish giving.' Giving selflessly versus giving a bit selfishly is, Grant writes, what ultimately separates successful from unsuccessful givers. Give, but make sure one is giving with a sense of purpose, and to people and things one cares about. Give, but not when it comes AT THE EXPENSE of one's own projects.
And this is the one area of criticism I have for Grant's otherwise well-written and VERY interesting book. He doesn't do a great job distinguishing between matchers (those who give when they think there will be something for them in return), and otherish givers (those who give selectively). .On its face, I think I have an understanding of the difference, but the ideas are very closely related.
One other small area of criticism: does it make sense to urge others to give, but then point out that giving is a good strategy to success? If one adopts giving as a strategy for success, then doesn't that mean, in a sense, that they are takers (giving because they expect to gain more than they give ultimately)? Grant warns against this tendency, telling us that giving because one expects ultimate benefits - is often a self-defeating strategy that others can detect. But, doesn't the mere fact that Grant's whole point is to show that and how giving is ultimately a winning strategy mean that many people WILL adopt it somewhat artificially because they expect a payoff? (I don't see how its avoidable.)
Anyway, I did gain a lot from this book. Not only have I found myself monitoring some of my interpersonal dealings by the advice given in this book, but it's given me insights into what working styles many of my colleagues have (which affects how I deal with them). Very good book that not only conveys some very interesting research, but should be able to give people some good and usable advice.
Oh, and as a final teaser... chapter 3 explains why Jonas Salk - typically renowned as a giver for refusing to patent his polio vaccine - is actually a taker.
I have believed in this cliché my entire life. I could probably think of at least a dozen examples in my life where I saw a self-centered person hired, promoted, or in some way rewarded while I (or someone I know) is ignored, passed by, or even punished. In those moments, it can be completely debilitating. That’s why the “nice guys finish last” cliché is so powerful. It feels so true.
However, there’s a difference between something feeling true and something being true.
In Adam Grant’s Give and Take, he identifies three types of people: givers, matchers, and takers. Givers are the selfless ones. Matchers are the quid pro quo group, and takers are the selfish ones. Conventional wisdom tells us takers get ahead, but in Grant’s research, givers rise to the top more frequently.
As I read this book I was kind of in disbelief the whole time, but page after page, Grant hit me with more evidence. I definitely think of myself as a giver (though I know I’m not perfect, I’m sure I have regretfully done some matching and taking in my life) and if you look at my life right now I don’t think anyone would identify me as losing. Perhaps then I am evidence that over time givers rise to the tops as takers are exposed and matchers ignored.
This book is a case for giving: who gives, how to give, and where it takes us. There is one caveat to all this: it has to be authentic. Giving to get ahead is matching, not giving. People can see right through that.
I feared this book would be a “cover spoiler” which I define as a book where the title or cover gives you all the information you really need and the entire book just repeats itself over and over again 200+ pages, but this book is full of wisdom and insights. I think this book is a great investment for leaders young and old.
Here’s a great excerpt from the end of the book that wraps it up neatly: “We spend the majority of our waking hours at work. This means that what we do at work becomes a fundamental part of who we are. If we reserve giver values for our personal lives, what will be missing in our professional lives?”