A read a lot of business books and this one had the fantastic dual effect of both affirming thinking I’d hoped could be supported with research and expanding my thinking in this area.
I found that this interview with the author with Adam Grant does a decent job of hitting the highlights of the book.
Here is what made the strongest impression on me:
The gist of the thinking is that people are givers, matchers or takers. You might be a different sort at work than at home. Work settings can feel harder to navigate because you don’t want to be taken advantage of so you may want to adapt a normally generous style at work to a more matching style.
Givers have the potential to do the best and the worst in work settings. When they do the best, they succeed at understanding their clients to serve them well and reap the benefits. They are generous with their time and with information and they are willing to invest in the development of employees/students etc. to mentor them. This creates a generative cycle. Having built trust though their investments in others, others are willing to be generous to them.
Grant also gives practical suggestions on how to communicate in a way that isn’t aligned with being a “taker” of information. He coins the term “powerless communication” and gives a great example of someone in a difficult negotiation on a job offer in a different city who, instead of presenting a demand list, finally asked for HR’s advice on how to proceed noting the considerations with which they were struggling. They were presented with an ideal solution for their situation.
At worst however, givers can overdo it and burn out. They do this by failing to look after their own needs and those needs may include neglect of work-related goals crucial to success. The book also contains interesting information on volunteering. Apparently 100 hours a year is the ideal for many which is good news for the creative Timeraiser initiative (though the number may decrease for seniors). Also interesting was that that the research shows that you’d generate more benefits from your volunteering if you did it in large chunks of time rather than small bit of time over many days. Something for me to aspire to.
I loved that this book affirmed my own commitment to be generous with my own resources with good reminders of the needs to draw boundaries on the levels of contribution. The book is great at outlining how we must be discerning with our time and it’ll be fine to devote our time to people who will give to others rather than those who are just interested in taking for themselves.