Book: Give and Take


The book Give and Take by Adam Grant is a quick and easy read, full of a lot of compelling stories and examples. The basic principle is that there are 3 different types of people in the world, and they react differently to those around them.

  • Takers are people who will use you to get to the top. They get those around them to give favours and help network in order for them to succeed.  Because they often are given things by other people but never give things back, they often burn bridges and are unable to keep connections over the long-term. Some takers are also “fakers” and try to act overly nice or do others favours in order to get their way and make them seem like givers. However, their behaviour never stays this way for long so eventually they are found out and punished by matchers and givers.
  • Matchers are people who believe in “tit for tat”. They will help others who have helped them in the past, or help others in order to gain a favour they can count on in the future (sometimes strategically). They will keep a tally of who owes what in their head. They will punish takers for their personality of not giving. Many givers act as matchers at work because they think it’s more appropriate and don’t want to be seen as weak.
  • Givers are people who are “other focused” and enjoy helping those around them. Givers can be divided into 2 categories. The first category of giver cares about others over themselves, and often is taken advantage of and gets burnt out. The second category of giver care about others a lot but also cares about themselves a lot. These givers tend to stop giving if being taken advantage of and will develop a matcher strategy instead. The people in this category are likely to make it to the top of their respective field.

Contrary to popular belief, givers are not always nice, and takers are not necessarily mean. They just have a different focus on how they think about helping others. The author found that giving is one of the primary attributes that makes the top of the list of desirable traits in almost every country around the world. However, many people also associate giving with being weak or naive and therefore try to change how others perceive them, especially when trying to succeed at work. By doing experiments such as the reciprocity ring, where a group of people asks for favours and helps others in the group, giving behaviours can be encouraged by every member in the community (for different reasons).

The studies also show that givers are most likely to be at the top and bottom of each field (including doctors, salesmen, teachers, etc.). It also shows that being a giver can help to expand the pie, so even by giving things away, givers are more likely to also achieve more and get more in return.

I would recommend this book for many different types of people.

  • For people who are “matchers” at work because they think it’s the only acceptable way to be, but secretly want to be “givers” in their entire life
  • For people who are “takers” but want to understand that they can still succeed and make it to the top as “givers”
  • For people who are “givers” and want to know how this can lead them to success instead of burning out
  • For people who want to learn how to encourage giving in their community
  • For people who like books similar to Malcolm Gladwell’s on the way the world works and interesting stories about everyday people (and famous ones too)

Note: If you’re not sure which category you fall under, you can take a short quiz to find out your predominant style..


About Amanda

Hi, I’m Amanda! Originally from Ottawa, Canada, I am currently living with my partner (Steve) in Sucre, Bolivia for the next year. I work in the unique space between industrial design and international development – but what does that even mean? I’m passionate about working WITH marginalized communities in a way that utilizes design to improve the lives of different types of people around the world. I have worked, studied, traveled, and researched on every continent (except Antarctica), and most recently I lived in Ghana, Bangladesh and Nepal. I love exploring new cultures and learning more about myself along the way.
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