Givers & Takers

two truck drivers reviewing tablet

By: Ellen Voie

We are all familiar with the friend who forgets his wallet when it’s time to pay for the meal, or the one who orders three cocktails and wants to split the check down the middle (and you drank water). Maybe your neighbor borrows your leaf clippers each fall and then forgets to return them before spring.

Some people seem to take advantage of any opportunity to be on the receiving end of our generosity. They are the “takers,” described by Adam Grant in his book, “Give and Take.” A taker values material things, such as money, power, status, and more. 

Whenever I read any business books, I look for a connection to the trucking industry, and this book is no exception. For professional drivers, a taker is someone who parks at the fuel pump and then goes inside to use a restroom and eat, or worse, take time for a shower. They don’t care about your schedule or how long you’ll wait in line for diesel.

A taker only looks out for himself or herself. They don’t care if they leave trash in the parking lot or block another truck from that last spot. Having trouble backing into a dock? A taker will sit and watch you instead of offering to spot the trailer. Takers are easy to identify and someone to avoid. They feel the world is a competitive place, and they must strive to overcome the competition.

According to Grant, a giver values social justice, compassion, helpfulness, and responsibility. A giver will offer you a shower voucher or offer to let you sit at his table to chat. Givers will help you clear your windshield after a snowfall. Everyone likes to be around givers, as we appreciate their caring nature.

Some people view givers as weak and easily manipulated. That may be the case for some people early in their careers who are less productive because they are helping others while still establishing themselves. Once the giver has influence, they are often the most successful.

A giver is also a networker. Consider someone looking for a job at a carrier and you know a driver or dispatcher there. Would you make introductions? Would you help a potential driver research truck driving schools in her area, so she makes an informed decision? Does it benefit you? If not, that’s okay with you because you want them to succeed.

There is a third category of individual called the “matcher.” The matcher keeps score and makes sure that she pays for lunch this time if you bought it last time. He keeps track of how many times he’s helped you because he expects you to reciprocate in the future. A matcher gives to have a favor in his back pocket for next time. They value fairness.

If you think gender plays a role in whether we are a giver or taker, you’d be surprised to learn there isn’t a difference in the likelihood of being a giver or a taker. However, there is a difference in how women approach giving compared to men. According to the author, women give to people they know, such as family members, friends, or colleagues. Women are more giving when the relationship is close to them.

Men are more giving when it comes to strangers. Men are more likely to help save someone’s life or help someone in need. For men, giving is more of an act related to ability than empathy, and helping others shows physical or mental proficiency.

There is an online test you can take to determine if you’re a giver, taker, or matcher. You may already have an idea based on your personality. You can also be a giver in some situations, a taker in others, and a matcher based on the interaction. The author shows how givers do achieve a higher level of success in life, so the next time you’re having lunch with a friend, offer to pick up the check, and then forget to keep score.

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