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Givers and takers

Source: Alan Zimmerman’s Tuesday Tip

I've noticed that people fall into two categories: givers and takers.

I've also noticed that the takers are the unhappiest people on earth. And it's no wonder. When their entire focus is on "What's In It For Me," they're bound to offend their coworkers, customers, friends and family members and have problems with them.

By contrast, those who experience the most success in their businesses, their teams and their families are givers.

Takers seldom think about others.
They're self-absorbed ... with their interests, their desires, their wants and their needs.

A man would get so busy with his work that he would forget everything else. So his wife got in the habit of writing him notes. One morning she wrote, "We're moving today." When the man returned home from work, no one was there. He looked in the windows. Everything was gone, and then he remembered ... oh yeah, we've moved. But he had no idea where. He sat on the curb and wondered what he should do. It was then that he saw a little girl passing by, and he called out, "Little girl, do you know the people who used to live here? Do you know where they moved?" The little girl said, "Come on, Daddy. Mamma said you wouldn't remember."

We can laugh at that story. But the sad truth is you may know people like that.

You may have a manager who seldom thinks about how the changes will affect the staff or seldom asks for staff input. You may have coworkers who act like customers are an interruption of their work instead of being the main reason they do work. And you may have a family member who is so preoccupied with his TV programs that he fails to connect with the other family members. They're all takers.

Takers are seldom satisfied with others.
They always want more ... even though they give very little in return. I see it in organizations all the time. I see it when a manager gives a performance review and says, "Overall, you've done a good job, BUT ..." I see it when a manager tells her organization, "We accomplished our goals this year, and that's great. But that's nothing compared to what you'll have to do next year." I see it when a father reviews his child's report card showing 4 A's and 1 B ... and then asks, "How come you got a B?"

All this taking behavior is demoralizing and demotivating. And if it goes on long enough, the recipient thinks, "What's the use of ever trying?"

If you're going to have a team that works, it's got to be filled with givers, not takers. If you're going to have loyal customers, you've got to have employees who care more about giving the customer what he needs than taking his money. And if you're going to have a personal relationship that works, both parties need to be givers. The great actress Katherine Hepburn talked about that. She said, "Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get -- only what you are expecting to give -- which is everything."

I challenge you to be a giver ... to avoid the all too easy trap of being a taker.

Condensed and reprinted with permission from Dr. Alan Zimmerman's 'Tuesday Tip.' As a best-selling author and Hall of Fame professional speaker, Zimmerman has worked with more than a million people, helping them become more effective communicators on and off the job. To receive a FREE, subscription to his 'Tuesday Tip' articles, go to http://www.DrZimmerman.com. Or contact him at 20550 Lake Ridge Drive, Prior Lake, MN 55372.


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The "giver/taker" distinction is a helpful way to assess how we are doing, but no one is completely one or the other. It is safer to use this model to assess ourselves rather than others. If we use it to assess others, and assess most of those around us as "takers" it may say more about us than about them.

Katherine Hepburn was not a "giver".

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