October 20th, 2013

BOOKS – Give and Take

Are You A Giver, A Taker, Or A Matcher?

guidoReciprocity styles have always held a special fascination for Adam Grant of The Wharton School. How we reciprocate for thoughtful gestures and acts of kindness by others is influenced by a number of factors, including culture, life experience and expectations, according to Grant.

Most people act like givers in their personal lives, particularly in close relationships.  We give whenever and as much as we can without keeping score.

But in the workplace, give and take becomes more complicated, says Grant. “For generations, we have focused on individual drivers of professional success: passion, hard work, talent and luck.  However, in today’s dramatically reconfigured world, success is increasingly dependent on how we interact with others.”

In professional interactions, it turns out that most people operate as either takers, matchers or givers. Whereas takers strive to get as much as possible from others and matchers aim to trade evenly, givers are the rare breed of people who contribute to others without expecting anything in return.

Grant’s new book, Give and Take, sheds some light on what effective networking, collaboration, influence, negotiation and leadership skills have in common. He digs deep into our reciprocity styles and the “surprising forces that shape why some people rise to the top of the success ladder while others sink to the bottom.”

booklook2Giving, taking and matching are three fundamental styles of social interaction, but the lines between them aren’t hard and fast. You might find that you shift from one reciprocity style to another as you travel across different work roles and relationships. In the end, says Grant, “these styles have a dramatic impact on success. Although some givers get exploited and burn out, the rest achieve extraordinary results across a wide range of industries.”

While I found Give and Take a bit of a slow read at times, there is plenty to keep the reader engaged. Grant does a good job of incorporating academic research and captivating stories to make his point that reciprocity styles can have a dramatic impact on our success in the workplace.

My favorite chapters include: The Peacock and the PandaHow Givers, Takers, and Matchers Build Networks; The Power of Powerless Communication – How to Be Modest and Influence People; and The Art of Motivation Maintenance – Why Some Givers Burn Out but Others Are On Fire.

As Grant writes, “…people differ dramatically in their preferences for reciprocity — their desired mix of taking and giving.”

Curious where you stand? Give and Take can help you figure it out.


Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success

Adam Grant



Hardcover, 272 pages

ISBN: 978-0-670-02655-5

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>