Takers, Matchers and Givers (and Fakers!)

This post takes less than 6 minutes to read

I have just read Adam Grant’s book with the title ‘Give and Take’ The Surprising Power of The Good Guy in a Tough World. http://www.amazon.com/Give-Take-Revolutionary-Approach-Success/dp/product-description/0670026557



According to Adam Grant mankind falls into three groups:

  • Takers
  • Matchers
  • Givers

Takers are people who make sure that any relationship they invest in will give them more in return than they invest themselves. Takers do not invest in any relationship unless they are convinced that the benefit balance will be in their own favor. Takers prefer to receive first and then maybe give later (if that can make them receive even more in the future).

Matchers are people who expect that any relationship they invest in will give equivalent benefit in return. Matchers do not invest in any relationship unless they are convinced that they will receive something of equivalent value in return. Matchers prefer to receive first, but may also give first if they consider the relationship bilaterally valuable for future purposes.

Givers are people who give without expecting anything in return. Givers are motivated and stimulated by giving, not by receiving. (Beware! There are Takers out there disguised as Givers. We call them Fakers. Adam Grant shows us how to reveal them).

Who are the most successful?

I assume you can guess that Adam Grant has found evidence supporting that Givers are more successful than Takers and Matchers. Through a number of well-chosen anecdotes and by referring to numerous social science experiments, he concludes that in general giving is much more personally rewarding than receiving. He also concludes that Givers are more successful in the long run than Matchers and Takers.

However, it is not that straight forward.

Although Givers are a happy lot, scrupulous Takers and small-minded Matchers threaten them. Givers risk being exploited and burning out. They risk spending too much time accommodating other peoples agendas without ever getting something in return or not having time enough to attend to their own needs.

If you have a Givers mentality and approach to inter human relationships, I suggest you read Adam Grant’s book to learn how you can continue to give without suffering from burn out and exploitation.

Network mathematics


Assume you are considering going to an event where you will have the opportunity to meet a lot of people. Also assume that you have genuine evidence that most of the other attendees are clear cut Takers.

An event with a majority of Takers is probably not a fun place to be. Would you go?

If you are Taker, then you will certainly stay away. You will know that by default you will get nothing from the other Takers before you give first. You risk never receiving anything in return so why bother going?

If you are a Matcher you will not go either. As you know that all the other attendees will try to get more from you than you can expect to receive, then it is not worth your time.

If you are a Giver you will go.

Most of the Takers will go away from the event very disappointed (those that didn’t meet the Givers). The Matchers will not be happy either, but all the Givers will go away delighted – if they have read Adam GrantÕs book first. Otherwise they will go away confused and exhausted. Adam Grant introduces the difference between selfless and otherish. Read the book yourself and find out why this distinction is important.

How many of each?

The book doesn’t answer this question and maybe no one knows exactly how mankind is divided between Givers, Matchers and Takers. Based on my own experience I guestimate that only 10% of mankind has a genuine Giver mentality outside their very close network of family and friends. Out of the remaining 90% I will guess that 60% are Takers and 30% are Matchers.

The world would be a much better place if there were more Givers than Matchers and Takers. If all Givers read Adam Grant’s book (Takers and Matchers probably donÕt read such books) maybe they can convert Takers and Matchers to become Givers as well. WouldnÕt it be fun to go to events where all the attendees were genuine Givers.

I would love to try that.

Adam Grant’s book is not an easy read, but it is certainly a book worthwhile reading.

You can follow me on Twitter: @hpbech


Hans Peter Bech is an author, economist and consultant. He is a frequent blogger on issues related to growing software driven companies to global market leadership and is the author of several books and whitepapers on business development in the software industry.  Hans Peter also facilitates workshops for software executives in the TBK Academy¨. Hans Peter holds a M.Sc. in macroeconomics and political science from the University of Copenhagen. He speaks Danish, English and German and is a certified ValuePerform, ValuePartner and Business Model Generation consultant.



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