Give and Take

We just finished reading “Give and Take” in our Binc book-club. This 2013 publication, by Wharton School professor, Adam Grant, is all about understanding how giving can bring you success in business and in life.

Here were some of our takeaways from this book:

Opening up a business presentation/conversation with a self-deprecating remark can be major for establishing credibility and buy-in.

Surprising, isn’t it? Chapter 5 of Grant’s book is dedicated to “The Power of Powerless Communication-- How to Be Modest and Influence People.” Grant tested it in his own speeches, and points to a classic experiment led by the psychologist Elliot Aronson-- and both of them found what audiences like best: an expert speaker who displays some element of vulnerability. Psychologists call this the pratfall effect. Whether that be joking about your lack of expertise or clumsily dropping a pen, it seems that displaying that human/fallible/real side of yourself makes whomever you’re talking to like you more.

Takeaway: Be yourself at work! In the context of recruitment: be honest with candidates and with clients, admit your shortcomings, and crack a joke if you’d like. Don’t try so hard to appear perfect; vulnerability often works in your favor.

Give in chunks, not in sprinkles-- it makes you happier and more energized.

Chunking vs. sprinkling. It’s not as gross as it may sound, I promise. In Chapter Six: The Art Of Motivation Maintenance, Grant talks about a study led by the psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky. They assigned people to perform five random acts of kindness every week for six weeks. Half chunked their giving acts into a single day each week, the other half sprinkled it across five days in the week. Studies show that giving/volunteering increases happiness, but this study found that the “chunkers” reaped the most happiness from their giving, while the “sprinklers” ended up more overwhelmed and burnt out!

Takeaway: Giving plays differently into everyone’s life and work life. As a recruiter, I try to respond to all the people who message me on LinkedIn, and help them if I can. What I’ve started to do since reading this is respond to all my LinkedIn inbound messages in one sitting in the week (sometimes two or three sittings; I’m trying!) This way, instead of checking those messages every day or a couple times a day and feeling overwhelmed, I knock ‘em all out at once and feel like such a super good, super nice person. No joke, it really does energize me to attack my work after. So, whatever giving looks like to you; at work or at home, try “chunking” it! Let me know how it works for you!!

Takers may win the sprint but givers win the marathon-- our words, not Grant’s.

In our final discussion on this book, we came away with this overall take-way.   

Grant makes this argument with anecdotes and with studies, and we’ve all seen this and felt/hoped it to be true in our own lives. Acting like a jerk, being purely self-serving, taking advantage of people; it only works for a bit! Grant found that, statistically, givers dominate the top of the success ladder as well as the bottom; it all depends on how they give and what goes along with it. If you’re a pro at work + you’re also a good person = #winning.

About the Binc Book Club

The Binc book club was originally formed after a handful of Bincers started to get excited about a new book being released relating to the Tech Industry. As word spread throughout the company more and more people began to show interest until there was a quite substantial little group of us forming. Every couple of months we choose a book that relates to our lives and our jobs and then we meet to discuss what we learned.