In a comment on yesterday’s post about community and neighourliness, Mary Beth Temple shared a link to an article from a few weeks ago in the New York Times Magazine. Is Giving the Secret to Getting Ahead? is about an organizational psychologist named Adam Grant, whose book Give and Take has just come out, and his research about the relationship of giving and generosity to one’s efficiency and productivity at work.
“Focusing on the contribution of our work to other people’s lives has the potential to make us more productive than thinking about helping ourselves.”
It’s fascinating research, and the article in the Times is a profile of a fascinating man. Mary Beth was spot on – this is a great complement to the article in The Atlantic that prompted what I wrote yesterday.
Grant says there are three kinds of people: givers, matchers and takers. Givers give without thought to receiving anything in return, matchers give when they think they’ll benefit in some equal way at some point, and takers always want to end up ahead.
I’m definitely a matcher (ETA: in my work life; personal life is entirely different). I’m far more inclined to give when I think I’ll be strengthening a relationship that’s important to me, or if I think that down the line the person I help might be able to help me, or if there’s some immediate consequence that will make me happy. I rarely help a taker, and admit I was fairly relieved to read in the article that Grant, a god amongst givers, says most people don’t.
I’m curious about how this book might shift my attitude about giving, especially in concert with my desire to be a better work neighbour. I’m putting it near the top of my (unrealistically long) to-read list.