Giver, Taker or Matcher – Which are You?


Do you look to help others? If you do, then
the next question is, why?
I just finished an excellent book, Give and Take, by Adam Grant. He
explores the principle of reciprocity but from a slightly different angle than
I typically do. Reciprocity is the psychological principle that tells us people
feel obligated to give back to those who’ve first given to them. Reciprocity is
triggered by the act of giving.
When it comes to reciprocity Grant explores
three kinds of people – takers, matchers and givers. As you might imagine, some
people don’t offer much help or only do so if they think they can get something
in return. These are takers and generally it’s best to avoid them because they
don’t really care about you except in so far as you can help them.
Matchers describe most people. You help them
and they’ll help you because they feel the pull of reciprocity.  They’ll offer help but usually not go
overboard. They’re almost keeping mental accounts because they feel if they
give too much they’ll be taken advantage of or not have enough time to tend to
their priorities.
Givers are those rare people who look to give
simply because they believe it’s the right thing to do. They’ll give far more than they
receive quite often and while they can be taken advantage of, for them that
doesn’t negate the reality that giving is the right thing to do. As a giver you
may give far more than you receive but you never know how doing something for
someone might just come around and be life changing for them as well as you.
As I read the book it reminded me of how I
came to know Robert Cialdini and his team at Influence At Work (IAW). I came in
contact with Dr. Cialdini’s work in 2002 when a friend, Nancy Edwards, was
studying for her MBA at The Ohio State University. Nancy saw a presentation Dr.
Cialdini had given at Stanford and was kind enough to share the video with me.
As I learned about the principles of influence a light bulb came on – the
principles explained all the sales techniques I’d learned and taught!
I purchased a copy of the video, began to
share it with small groups and we’d talk about how we could apply the concepts
at State Auto. One thing I appreciated about Dr. Cialdini was his emphasis on
non-manipulative ways to persuade people.
Sometime later, Stanford came out with a new
marketing piece for the video and it read, “Call it Influence, Persuasion, or
even Manipulation,” then went on to describe the video in more detail. Because
Dr. Cialdini was so emphatic about the ethical use of the principles I decide
to email Stanford. I basically said, “No one wants to be manipulated and I
doubt anyone wants to be known as a manipulator. That word can’t be helping your
sales but it sure could be hurting sales.”
Time passed and I never heard from Stanford
but one day my phone rang and it was Bobette Gorden, the vice president of
IAW, calling to thank me for sending that email to Stanford.
Apparently someone at Stanford read the email and decided to change how they
were marketing Dr. Cialdini’s video.
As fate would have it, during that call,
Bobette let me know Dr. Cialdini spoke about influence around the world in case
we ever needed a keynote speaker. It so happened we were looking for a speaker for
some upcoming agency conferences! In 2004, Dr. Cialdini spoke at State Auto
several times and that summer I went through his two-day Principles of
Persuasion workshop.
From there you might just say the rest is
history. I’ve now been a certified trainer for IAW for more than five years and
have been blogging on the subject of influence for more than four years.
The point of this post is twofold. First, for
those who are looking for ways to be more influential through giving, pick up a
copy of Give and Take. You’ll be a
more effective persuader because of it and more importantly, a better person.
The second point of the post is to encourage
you to be a giver because it’s the right thing to do. Trust that good things
will come your way as a result but in the meantime, look for ways to genuinely
help others. The late Zig Ziglar used to say; “You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” There’s
wisdom and truth in those words so go out today and “give” it a try.


Brian, CMCT®
Chief Influence Officer
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.
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