Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Give and Take by Adam Grant

You've probably heard of the saying "nice guys finish last". Well, that's an incomplete truth. In fact, nice guys and gals (aka the givers) finish first and last.

So, why do givers occupy both extremes? This book aims to investigate why, teach you the difference between givers and takers, and figure out how givers can make their giving work to their advantage.

I actually requested this book because the one I wanted to read, The Originals, wasn't available. But, I have no regrets. The book is interesting, easy to read, plus it uses many, many studies to buttress it's points. I ended up taking many notes, which in my typical oversharing fashion, I'm going to copy here.

First: we should beware first impressions. Apparently, takers "tend to form glowing first impressions", because they are good at kissing up. You want to find out their true character? Look at how they treat their subordinates.

Second, there's something called "expedition behaviour". Basically, it involves putting the group ahead of the individuals, and like the name suggests, was coined by the National Outdoor Leadership School. And according to astronauts, it's also why they succeed in space.

Kinda interesting, especially since in Asia, the idea of the group before the individual was pretty prevalent. I wonder how the rise of individualism will affect those dynamics (and this has nothing to do with givers haha). (Sorry, that was a random digression.)

Also, responsibility bias is a real thing. We tend to overestimate our own contributions to a project. However, we can somewhat mitigate this effect if we take the time to appreciate what our partner/other group members have actually done. This is something that I can certainly agree with. I once worked with someone that tore my hair out, and I was tempted to tell everyone that I did 99% of the work. But, when I thought about it, I realised that all the work up to the actual analysis of the data plus the writing and revising of the paper was actually split equally, so I revised my contribution down to 80% (which according to my teacher, was still too high).

Third, psychological safety is important if you want people to take risks. I think this is self-explanatory.

Fourth, if you are a supremely qualified person, showing some of your weakness, i.e. Being intentionally vulnerable will make you more likeable. If you're mediocre though, this does not work at all.

Fifth, apart from fight or flight, there's another response to stress called "tend and befriend". Basically, we seek out people in order to "receive joint protection in threatening times".

And by the way, the way for givers not to be taken advantage of is to give strategically. Or as the book puts it, be "otherish". Basically, think of others as you act.

I also liked the idea that when givers negotiate, they should use a "relational account". Basically, think of the people who are depending on the giver to do a good job. Apparently that's really effective.

And this brings us to the end of my notes.

I really liked this book. Apart from being interesting, it also reinforced the idea that fighting my selfish impulses is the right thing to do. So even though the book isn't religious at all, it reminded me to be more Christ-like in my actions.

Plus, it also reassured me that I don't need to answer every single email that comes my way. I want to help, but I have to help smart. Oh! I just realised, this relates to what @untraceme was talking about in her Dayre!

I really do recommend this book. If you're Singaporean, it's available in the NLB's eReads program, so you don't even have to go to the library to borrow it.

1 comment :

  1. While this isn't likely a book I would pick up, I can see the inherit truth in the bits you've shared.


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