3 Simple Ways to Become A Better Giver

Have you ever heard of Adam Grant? He’s Wharton’s youngest tenured professor and the author of Give and Take, touted as one of the best business books of 2013. Last week, I got to hear him speak at the World Business Forum, a gathering of top business leaders in New York.

Grant became popular for his insights on how our fundamental styles of interaction influence our success. Grant thinks there are 3 styles: givers, takers, and matchers. Givers enjoy helping others with no strings attached, and share their knowledge freely. Takers are always trying to take stuff and avoid giving back unless they have to. Matchers try to give an even balance of give and take.

Who do you think is most successful?

Grant found that givers are overrepresented on both ends of the spectrum – they’re most likely to finish last AND have the highest odds of finishing  first. Specifically, givers tend to fail in the short run and succeed in the long run. Why? Because givers learn more than takers and matchers, and they make more connections. Also, takers take advantage of givers – but matchers act like the “karma police” and stick up for the givers. In fact, when there are more givers in a workplace, the matchers start to become givers, too;.

So how can you be more giver-like without compromising your success? Crucially, you must not expect something back from everyone you help. And you can also follow these 3 tips, too.

1. Be thoughtful about your favors.

Ever heard of Adam Rifkin? Probably not – but this man was named Fortune’s best networker on LinkedIn. Rifkin was a successful entrepreneur who retired in his 30s, then began reaching out and helping struggling entrepreneurs. But Rifkin realized he couldn’t handle all the requests for favors – so instead of stopping giving altogether, Rifkin took a different approach. Rifkin’s favorite kind of favor was an introduction. So he started doing that only,  making 3 introductions every day for 12 years. Now, Rifkin has made over 12,000 connections, which led to the start of 5 dozen companies and even 4 marriages.

The lesson you can take from Rifkin? Pick a 5-minute favor you enjoy doing and excel at. Focus on those, and let others handle the rest.

2. Make a Reciprocity Ring.

This is an excellent way to improve the giver/taker/matcher relationships in your company, but it’s also a fun exercise to do with any group of 8  -10 people. In this group, every person asks for what they want, and everybody tries to help via several 5-minute favors. Grant has used Reciprocity Rings to help a student realize he didn’t want to work at Six Flags, and get a man to fulfill his lifelong dream of seeing a tiger in the wild.

Sure, givers sometimes cheat in Reciprocity Rings and ask on behalf of others – but givers do ask for favors, which they won’t normally do. Takers give because all the contributions in this ring are visible – giving up to triple their normal contributions. And matchers walk away realizing their interaction style doesn’t work that well; it’s better to give so everybody benefits, instead of only giving to those who helped you.

The bottom line? Reciprocity Rings are good for everybody – it improves our styles of interaction and makes all of our lives better. Starting one in your business or personal life

3. Count your contributions.

Lots of our real-life superheroes count their blessings every night. While that’s great for your overall happiness, it actually only boosts how giving you are in the short run. In the long run, people who count their contributions – not their blessings – are more likely to become givers because giving becomes part of their identity. In other words, it’s more important to be mindful of what you did instead of what you’ve got.

But that’s not all. Grant related an experiment in which people were asked to “chunk” their good deeds into one day, or “sprinkle” them over several days. The experiment found that the chunkers were much happier and more productive than the sprinklers. Why? Because the chunkers were less distracted by the favors they were doing AND they felt like they were making a real difference in that one day.

Bottom line? To be a better giver, remember how you did good – and chunk all your favors together.

Ultimately, there are times when it’s better to be a taker or a matcher – like when you’re negotiating your salary at work. But in general, giving is better for your happiness and your companies. And following these tips will help you give without compromising your own success.

Liked this? Check out How to Deal with Discouragement at Work!

Written by Sasha Graffagna

Have you ever heard of Adam Grant? He’s Wharton’s youngest tenured professor and the author of Give and Take, touted as one of the best business books of 2013. Last week, I got to hear him speak at the World Business Forum, a gathering of top business leaders in New York.

Grant became popular for his insights on how our fundamental styles of interaction influence our success. Grant thinks there are 3 styles: givers, takers, and matchers. Givers enjoy helping others with no strings attached, and share their knowledge freely. Takers are always trying to take stuff and avoid giving back unless they have to. Matchers try to give an even balance of give and take.

Who do you think is most successful?

Grant found that givers are overrepresented on both ends of the spectrum – they’re most likely to finish last AND have the highest odds of finishing  first. Specifically, givers tend to fail in the short run and succeed in the long run. Why? Because givers learn more than takers and matchers, and they make more connections. Also, takers take advantage of givers – but matchers act like the “karma police” and stick up for the givers. In fact, when there are more givers in a workplace, the matchers start to become givers, too;.

So how can you be more giver-like without compromising your success? Crucially, you must not expect something back from everyone you help. And you can also follow these 3 tips, too.

1. Be thoughtful about your favors.

Ever heard of Adam Rifkin? Probably not – but this man was named Fortune’s best networker on LinkedIn. Rifkin was a successful entrepreneur who retired in his 30s, then began reaching out and helping struggling entrepreneurs. But Rifkin realized he couldn’t handle all the requests for favors – so instead of stopping giving altogether, Rifkin took a different approach. Rifkin’s favorite kind of favor was an introduction. So he started doing that only,  making 3 introductions every day for 12 years. Now, Rifkin has made over 12,000 connections, which led to the start of 5 dozen companies and even 4 marriages.

The lesson you can take from Rifkin? Pick a 5-minute favor you enjoy doing and excel at. Focus on those, and let others handle the rest.

2. Make a Reciprocity Ring.

This is an excellent way to improve the giver/taker/matcher relationships in your company, but it’s also a fun exercise to do with any group of 8  -10 people. In this group, every person asks for what they want, and everybody tries to help via several 5-minute favors. Grant has used Reciprocity Rings to help a student realize he didn’t want to work at Six Flags, and get a man to fulfill his lifelong dream of seeing a tiger in the wild.

Sure, givers sometimes cheat in Reciprocity Rings and ask on behalf of others – but givers do ask for favors, which they won’t normally do. Takers give because all the contributions in this ring are visible – giving up to triple their normal contributions. And matchers walk away realizing their interaction style doesn’t work that well; it’s better to give so everybody benefits, instead of only giving to those who helped you.

The bottom line? Reciprocity Rings are good for everybody – it improves our styles of interaction and makes all of our lives better. Starting one in your business or personal life

3. Count your contributions.

Lots of our real-life superheroes count their blessings every night. While that’s great for your overall happiness, it actually only boosts how giving you are in the short run. In the long run, people who count their contributions – not their blessings – are more likely to become givers because giving becomes part of their identity. In other words, it’s more important to be mindful of what you did instead of what you’ve got.

But that’s not all. Grant related an experiment in which people were asked to “chunk” their good deeds into one day, or “sprinkle” them over several days. The experiment found that the chunkers were much happier and more productive than the sprinklers. Why? Because the chunkers were less distracted by the favors they were doing AND they felt like they were making a real difference in that one day.

Bottom line? To be a better giver, remember how you did good – and chunk all your favors together.

Ultimately, there are times when it’s better to be a taker or a matcher – like when you’re negotiating your salary at work. But in general, giving is better for your happiness and your companies. And following these tips will help you give without compromising your own success.

Liked this? Check out How to Deal with Discouragement at Work!

Written by Sasha Graffagna

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