Are you a Giver or a Taker?

by Helen Whelan

Have you ever met a “taker”?

That’s the person who asks for a favor, help with a project, an introduction, you name it…but when you reach out to him or her, they’re too busy? They treat relationship as a transaction to “get” something.  As a result, how do you react next time they come around? Do you help them? Ignore the request? Or, do you match their energy and become a taker too?Are you a give or taker?

Stephen Covey, author of the perennial best-seller, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, writes about creating the ability to make change happen by changing our own behavior. If you’ve ever taken a transformational training or read about human potential, you’ll know the concept of  “There is no other person out there; there’s just you.” It’s all about how you are behaving in the world and the results that get created based on your behavior.

So, if you’re being a taker, most likely takers are entering your world.  You’ll know it because your relationships and communication are transaction-based. It’s all based on “WIIFM” – What’s in it for me? As a leader, this is exhausting. There’s really no flow,  just a lot of work to make the transactions work.

Then, there are the “givers”. You probably have come across people like this. They help because it’s just what they do. It’s in their DNA. They empathize. They genuinely connect. They somehow know how to enrich or even calm a stressful situation through effective relationship and communication skills. Customer service training videos actually show this behavior in action: calming angry retail customers or an irate patient in a healthcare situation. (Some of the videos are hilarious but not at all far from reality!)

But, sometimes, it’s hard to “elevate.” We just react, give into our feelings, to slights or perceived offense. We’re human. You meet a taker and that side of us can easily surface. We match that energy. We become a taker too.

Experience a “giver” and it’s a different story.  They take the time, however small, to help when they can. They aren’t trying to get something but if they needed something, I, for one, would scramble to be the first in line to help.   I actually keep these people in my mind and heart, looking for opportunities to help them.  I’m sure I’m not alone.  Maybe that’s why so many of them are successful.

Who do you want to be?  What kind of people do you want entering your world?

Image courtesy of nokhoog_buchachon /

Helen Whelan is the founder of Success Television, a leadership development media company. She is a passionate advocate of using media to empower people in their journey of personal and professional growth . You can follow her on Twitter @SuccessTV.


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