Give and take – Adam Grant 

Every so often a book comes along and changes or shakes up your life. Since finishing Give and Take by Adam Grant I’ve been throwing it at anyone that will listen. It has been an inspiration. Adam Grant seems like a very Good Egg.

It shows how giving, taking, and matching are three fundamental styles of interacting with others and why helping others drives our success; the value of giving.

This isn’t a book review – I love it, you should read it, learn from it and then pass it forward to others. Below is just a few of the many take out’s I got from this stirring book.

Adam Grant

‘Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness’ Martin Luther King Jr

“Fred Goldner wrote about what it means to experience the opposite of paranoia: pronoia. According to the distinguished psychologist Brian Little, pronoia is ‘the delusional belief that other people are plotting your well-being, or saying nice things about you behind your back’” p48

The definition of success in the mind of the giver:

“In the mind of a giver, the definition of success itself takes on a distinctive meaning. Whereas takers view success as attaining results that are superior to others’ and matchers see success in terms of balancing individual accomplishments with fairness to others, givers are inclined to…characterize success as individual achievements that have a positive impact on others. Taking this definition of success seriously might require dramatic changes in the way that organisations hire, evaluate, reward and promote people. It would mean paying attention not only to the productivity of individual people but also to the ripple effects of this productivity on others. If we broadened our image of success to include contributions to others along with individual accomplishments, people might be motivated to tilt their professional reciprocity styles toward giving”. P257

The value of teachers who recognise that anyone can be a bloomer:

Today we have compelling evidence that interest precedes the development of talent. It turns out that motivation is 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 recognising that anyone can be a bloomer, givers focus their attention on motivation p104-105

The psychologist Angela Duckworth calls this grit: having passion and perseverance toward long term goals. Her research shows that above and beyond intelligence and aptitude, gritty people – by virtue of their interest, focus and drive – achieve higher performance p106

Giver communication styles:

“Givers instinctively adopt a powerless communication style that proves surprisingly effective in building prestige. Givers are more inclined toward asking questions, talking tentatively than boldly, admitting their weaknesses than displaying their strengths and seeking advice than imposing their views on others” p131

“By asking people questions about their plans and intentions we increase the likelihood that they actually act on these plans and intentions” p142

“New research shows that advice seeking is a surprisingly effective strategy for exercising influence when we lack authority” p150

“Asking for advice encouraged greater cooperation and information sharing, turning a potentially contentious negotiation into a win-win deal…seeking advice is among the most effective ways to influence peers, superiors and subordinates” p150

Tend and befriend:

“UCLA psychologist Shelley Taylor has discovered a stress response that differs from fight or flight. She calls it tend and befriend…One of the most striking aspects of the human stress response is the tendency to affiliate – that is to come together is groups to provide and receive joint protection in threatening times’” p178

Frans de Waal and the age of empathy

‘The age of empathy’ The selfish/unselfish divide may be a red herring. Why try to extract the self from the other, or the other from the self, if the merging of the two is the secret behind our cooperative nature’ p178

On the idea of uncommon commonality

“We gravitate towards people, places and products with which we share an uncommon commonality.

Marilynn Brewer…on the one hand we want to fit in: we strive for connection, cohesiveness, community, belonging, inclusion and affiliation with others. On the other hand, we want to stand out: we search for uniqueness, differentiation, and individuality. As we navigate the social world, these two motives are often in conflict. The more strongly we affiliate with a group, the greater our risk of losing our sense of uniqueness. The more we work to distinguish ourselves from others, the greater our risk of losing our sense of belongingness. How do we resolve this conflict? The solution is to be the same and different at the same time. Brewer calls it the principle of optimal distinctiveness: we look for ways to get in and stand out…the more rare a group, value, interest, skill, or experience is, the more likely it is to facilitate a bond. And research indicated that people are happier in groups that provide optimal distinctiveness, giving a sense of both inclusion and uniqueness” p180

The book concludes with some actions for impact including:

  • Run a reciprocity ring – groups of people getting together to help one another fulfil requests
  • Help other people craft their jobs – help others work on tasks that are aligned to their interests and skills
  • Practice powerless communication – from talking to listening, self-promoting to advice seeking and advocating to inquiring
  • Seek help more often – ask for help
  • Join giver groups, recognise peers for their giving, launch into giving – funding or random acts of kindness

So in your own networks and relationships, are you aiming to claim, contribute, or exchange value?

Get the book and test your giver quotient on the website: Give and Take

If you feel like you are a giver, want to develop giving skills, looking to help others through your communication work or work in charity or not-for-profit and could do with some support then please get in touch with us here at Good Eggs

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