Tag Archive for: Adam Grant

Combating ISIS with NICES: Giving and Receiving

As I write this post there have been ISIS attacks in Belgium, Iraq and Pakistan, not to mention attacks in numerous other countries before all the recent tragedies. Their increased activity has people living in fear despite the reality that the likelihood of dying in an ISIS terrorist attack is so much less than dying in an airlines disaster or car accident.

The irrational fear is because of the recency effect. Those things we can quickly recall to mind impact our thoughts and behavior more than other things that might have a far greater chance of impacting us. Think for a moment; we don’t stop flying or driving even though the risks from those activities is far greater than dying from a terrorist attack. Similarly, a poor diet and lack of exercise will kill many more people “before their time” than will terrorist attacks!

Jesus told his followers more than 2,000 years ago it was better to give than receive. Even if you don’t consider yourself a follower of Christ, do you really believe that? I think most people just pay that saying lip service. Very few people get more joy giving than receiving mostly because they stay focused on a “me first” and “looking out for #1” attitude.

One person I know who does get more from giving than receiving is my friend Loring Mellien, also known as Pud to his friends. I saw this clearly on a recent trip to San Diego for his daughter April’s wedding. There’s a world famous golf course in San Diego called Torrey Pines and my wife Jane (an avid, almost addicted, golfer) was intent on playing there. Pud was just as intent on helping her make her dream come true. As Pud and I talked beforehand I told him I thought he might just get more joy out of seeing Jane get the chance to play Torrey Pines than she would actually playing there. Pud is a rare person because he truly gets more joy helping people than he gets from receiving. I also think he gets more happiness from helping others than they get from realizing their goals and desires.

How does this apply to ISIS? Most of the world is living in fear of a tiny group of people when we could do so much more to combat ISIS. I’m not talking about combating them with military forces. I’m talking about combating them with the admonition to love one another and giving, rather than looking to get.

What a message we could send to the world if we all adopted the attitude that you are more important than me! What if we always asked what do you need? How can I help you? The more we do so the more we’ll experience the joy that comes with giving.

How does this relate to influence? Studies form people like Adam Grant show when we help others we do feel better about ourselves (the joy of giving) but that’s not all we’re after. The real value is that when we help others they’re more inclined to help others as a result. That’s the basis of the “pay it forward” concept. Unlike terrorism, which feeds on fear, the more good we do the more good will spread!

If light dispels the darkness and if love conquers evil then we should be able to rid ourselves of the fear from groups like ISIS and others who hate, simply by loving and giving. When I talk of love I’m not talking about the feeling of falling in love but the choice to place another’s well-being above your own and looking for ways to give.

I challenge you this week to look for ways to love and give. Take notice of how you feel and how others respond. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised in both cases and your small part of the world will be better off because of you.

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”.