Take, Match or Give

As CEO, imagine having the opportunity to hire one of three contractors to complete a major business or construction project for your company. Imagine now that you went to high school with all three contractors competing for your business.

The FIRST proposal comes from Ted. Ted was the loud, obnoxious jock in high school, constantly calling attention to himself. He was selfish both on and off the basketball court. He was often rude and disrespectful to the young ladies he dated. Ted is only in a position to offer a bid because he inherited the company from his dad. His younger brothers are the ones that do all the work behind the scenes and are the only reason the company is still viable. Ted prides himself on being a master negotiator, and that’s why you’re interacting with him.

The SECOND proposal comes from Mark. Mark didn’t stand out in high school. He just went about his own way – not bothering anybody but not going out of his way to help either. He treated others with respect as long as they treated him with respect. He wasn’t afraid to speak up if someone offended him or was rude, but he avoided conflict for the most part. He never got too high or too low. He was always just average.

The THIRD proposal is from Gwen. You remember Gwen. Everyone remembers Gwen because she was always so happy and outgoing. Gwen was popular, but she wasn’t conceited. She was a friend to everyone – always eager to help in any way she could. She had straight A’s, played on the volleyball team, and constantly volunteered in her community. She was full of energy and positivity. She didn’t do anything for attention or with the intent of receiving anything in return. It was simply who she chose to be. People wanted to be around her just to absorb some of her positivity.

The decision is easy. You go with Gwen even though lower bids come in from the other two contractors. That’s because you know Gwen will go above and beyond the call of duty for you and overdeliver. She’s exactly the type of person you want to be in business with.

In life and business, which of the three contractors do you identify with most? Are you a taker like Ted, a matcher like Mark, or a giver like Gwen?

What’s the difference?

In his book “Give and Take,” author Adam Grant, organizational psychologist and professor at Wharton Business School, delves into the three types of reciprocity styles that people adopt when interacting with others and how that reciprocity style impacts a person’s success in business and their relationships with others.

The Taker.

“Takers have a distinctive signature: they like to get more than they give. They tilt reciprocity in their own favor, putting their own interests ahead of others’ needs.”

Takers operate with the perspective of:

​”What’s in it for me? What am I getting out of this? Will this action be of value to me? Will this make me better off? Is this worth my time and energy?”

The Matcher.

​Most people are matchers, and they’re called matchers because they match or mirror the person they’re interacting with. If the other person gives to a matcher, they’ll give back. If the other person takes advantage of a matcher and takes from them, they’ll look to get even and take something back.

“Matchers operate on the principle of fairness: when they help others, they protect themselves by seeking reciprocity. If you’re a matcher, you believe in tit for tat, and even exchanges of favors govern your relationships.”  

The Giver.

​Givers are positive and see the world with rose-colored glasses. Helping others and creating a win-win environment is how they measure success. They’re interested in how their actions make others or the WHOLE better off. They help others without expecting anything in return. If someone asks for their help, they’ll go above and beyond without expecting anything in return.

The Scenario.

You have three roommates and ask for a ride to the airport.

  • ​​The giver will gladly take you even if they’re in the middle of something important and won’t expect anything in return.
  • ​The taker will take you to the airport only if they get more out of it than they put into it. If the trip takes a quarter tank of gas, they’ll do it if you fill up their whole tank.
  • ​The matcher will do it but makes clear that you owe them an equal favor in the future.

Who’s More Successful?

Your reciprocity style defines whether you’ll land at the top or the bottom of the success ladder.

“Evidence shows that at work, the vast majority of people develop a primary reciprocity style, which captures how they approach most people most of the time. And this primary style can play as much of a role in our success as hard work, talent, and luck.”

Who’s most likely to succeed?

“Across occupations, if you examine the link between reciprocity styles and success, the givers are more likely to become champs.”​

Why do givers succeed?

Because they build better reputations, more and stronger relationships, and far bigger networks than matchers or takers.  

How Being A Giver Could Help You With Investments.

Everyone who knows me knows I’m a champion of private alternative investments. These opportunities in the private markets aren’t out in the open and aren’t easy to find. You either have to seek them out or they find you. I have found in my own experience that the best opportunities have been the ones that have been presented to me through my network or from contacts, associates, and business partners I have developed relationships with throughout my investing career.  

Being a giver opens up doors in investments because of their reputations as being kind, thoughtful, and generous with their time. Others will want to share opportunities with you and work with you because of your reputation. Because of your reputation, you will be able to build and grow a vast network that will open up doors of endless possibilities.

Take, Match Or Give?

The answer is clear:

​​It pays to be a giver but don’t force it. It has to come naturally, and it has to be genuine. Otherwise, you’ll just come across as another opportunistic taker no one will want to interact with.

​​Now more than ever, in our digital age, reputations, and networks can be created (or destroyed) in a fraction of the time it took before the internet and social media.

Leverage these tools and get out into your local communities to share with others your skills and knowledge. If you do it with a pure heart and without expecting anything in return, everything else will take care of itself.