give and take


Are you a taker, matcher or giver?

Yes, I am a matcher most of the time, unfortunately, and sometimes a taker or a giver. I feel the need to get evolved to be a giver after reading the book Give and Take by Adam Grant as giving wisely makes life happier. Yes, it takes actions and time to be a generous giver so it’s better that we really enjoy the process of giving. I’m trying to get there although I’m still far from the end of evolution.

How to be a cheerful giver?

Givers are generous folks who take other’s interests above theirs. Not many people can do that all the time I guess. I hope you’re one of the cheerful givers and I hope I can be one soon. Adam Grant advocates giving as he loves to see more successful givers getting to the top without cutting others down, finding ways of expanding the pie that benefit themselves and the people around them.

“When you meet people, regardless of who they are, you should be asking yourself, ‘How can I help the other person?’”


I must admit that my ability to imagine other people’s perspectives is very weak as I’m an introvert and I don’t practice perspective-taking a lot in real life. I always get stuck in my own perspective so I find myself not so helpful to others. Once upon a time, my boyfriend at the time asked me to help him to do his individual essay but I just promised him to help with the proofreading. He then asked another friend to finish it for him near the deadline. Since then, he broke up with me. This relationship let me realize that he is a matcher and I am not a giver. I failed to put his interest over mine and he failed to prioritize our relationship over his study. What if both of us are otherish givers considering our partner’s thoughts and interests to find ways that satisfy others without sacrificing our own interests?

Seeking advice

Adam suggests us to ask for advice, which is a form of powerless communication showing our vulnerability. In his opinion, advice-seeking has 4 benefits: learning, perspective taking, commitment, and flattery. For example, when I ask my senior how to get a pay rise, he will give suggestions for my situation (engage in perspective-taking) and help me if he is a giver (commitment). I will take new information (learning) from him and give appreciation (flattery) to him. This whole process of seeking advice is more like prompting the adviser to be a giver. It literally gives the adviser a chance to give.

The 100-hour rule of volunteering

In the book, Adam also mentions the 100-hour rule of volunteering — the optimal hour to give without burning out. It’s just two hours a week if we break down 100 hours a year. Research shows that happiness increased when people performed all five giving acts or volunteer work in a single day rather than doing one a day. And if you are burning out, you can recharge your energy by shifting your giving to a new domain where your contributions showing visible impacts.

Seeing everyone as talented

Adam Grant believes generous givers simply start by seeing everyone as talented and try to bring out the best in them. They don’t excel only at recognizing and developing talent; they’re also surprisingly good at moving on when their bets don’t work out.

There’re so many great stories about takers and givers in Adam’s book worth reading. Hope you will be willing to give more no matter big or small after reading this. If we measure success in what it has done for the people around us, being helpful to others with a sense of free choice is successful.

Happy reading!




40 thoughts on “give and take

  1. Great post and you make the book sound great ! I would add that it’s also important to know how to take/receive. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but many people want to give back as soon as they receive because they feel in debt. It makes me happy when someone takes what I give (time, good, advice, whatever) without the intent of giving back, when they give back, I feel that my joy of giving had been stolen.

  2. Love it and love to give, and I know you don’t give to receive. But it would be nice now and again for others to do the same.

  3. Not helping your boyfriend w/ his essay sounds to me like–well, maybe he really wanted help but I wonder if he wasn’t hoping to have it done for him. That’s the thing about a personal essay: It’s personal. It’s yours. Your opinions, your thoughts, your observations, you working your way through the material at hand. I’m very much in favor of giving, but I’m also in favor of being smart about who you give to and how. People need not to just take if they’re expecting you to give.

    Sorry. Am I just being a grump here?

  4. Being a total giver (as you can see on my long comment) I did learn a few things on the way:
    Initially I give, because I think it makes the world a better place, so I start breaking the stagnation of distrust around me by being the first to give. An example would be me being in the gym, seeing how everyone is in it for themselves, so I dish out compliments or give someone a small gift. Usually it works wonders, because deep down everyone wants to be good, so as soon as they discover that they have nothing to fear, they open up themselves.

    However, I actually discovered that I do expect some feedback after a while – in friendships or relationships.
    Feedback means to be fed back,
    and you probably know the analogy of the afterlife where everyone was tied to a handle of a really long spoon:
    Hell was the place where everyone tried to feed themselves, but because their spoon was too long they could not feed themselves,
    and heaven the place where everyone simply fed others with that long spoon.
    But what is missing in this story is that it only works if others also feed one – if they are feed back and therewith literally receive a feed-back.
    It is like any game: You don’t want to play a ballgame with people who don’t throw or kick the ball back – soon your heart is out of the game.
    So I discovered that at one stage I do become a matcher, making an overall equation of what I got back and if nothing came I start to leave. Yet I became more merciful in this calculation, because I learned that others might not be able to give back in the same way but may have given in ways I did not recognise, plus giving seems to be a “paying forward” thing where I give food to some tracker whom I never see again and s/he may support someone else at another time.
    A good lesson was walking the Camino de Santiago where everyone started holding their few belongings together but soon found out that it was too much to carry, so soon all shared their food with others.

    And another aspect when being a giver is not to give to the wrong causes:
    The Baghdad Vad Ghita states that giving stupidly wastes the gift, and the best example is what the previous commenter mentioned:
    You subconsciously may have picked up that it would be better for him to learn from doing his work, so you didn’t cater to his egotistical or ignorant desire to be lazy.
    It is a bit like the principle of teaching someone to fish instead of giving them a fish.

    Long story short: Giving seems related to ones own level of consciousness:
    An alcoholic supports someone in withdrawal by giving another alcohol,
    and someone who moved beyond may help that addict by elevating their presence to evolve out of the addiction.
    It is not possible to put fixed standards onto giving, because we all have to go through our Karma and give according to our vibration.

    The abstract benefit of giving is that it makes the energy flow and therewith evolve faster,
    because we learn from seeing the fruits of what we did saw.
    In this way even ‘dis-appointments’ are fruitful because they rid us of erroneous appointments we made with reality.

    1. Wow! I’m impressed by your long comments and great analysis about giving with stories! I agree with you that when being a giver is not to give to the wrong causes. I love the stories you shared which are good examples. I appreciate that you are the first to give. 😀 It’s always great that if others give feedback to us. I understand why you expect some feedback after a while. It’s human nature. We wanna be treated equally. 🙂

  5. Hi, you write very positively, energizing the reader to read more and change his/er pattern of life. I’m really impressed with your positive thinking and sharing ideas. Best of luck

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  8. Perhaps it is a human impulse, and need, to categorise people into types, to attach tags. Perhaps it makes it easier to process. Though subconsciously it does happen, consciously I try to stay away from this bucketing and tagging. Are you a Giver or a Taker? Are you an Intro or Extrovert? Are you Emotional or Objective? Do you work with your Mind or Heart? I think it is a demeaning process.

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