Never give a free advice?

Never give a free advice?

In my career as an entrepreneur, consultant and coach I have been occasionally confronted with that question myself: Do I give too much without getting anything in return? With this inner quarrel I fell on the book of Wharton University professor Adam Grant “Give and Take – A Revolutionary Approach to Success”.

Grant starts from the position that success depends – besides hard work, talent and luck - heavily how we interact with people at work. There we have the choice to make: Do we claim as much value as we can or do we contribute value without worrying what we receive in return.

In his research he identified in a large variety of organizations three types of personalities: Takers, Givers and Matchers. Takers like to get more than they give. They are self-focused and evaluating what other people can offer them. Givers are other-focused. They pay more attention to what other people need from them. They are concerned how they can support others. And Matchers operate on the principle of fairness. Their help is based on the idea of reciprocity: You scratch my back; I’ll scratch your back.

Some of the results of his research are very clear and for many probably surprising:

1) We generally underestimate Givers. They are in the long run and under certain conditions often in the top of the success scale. This is true for people from very different fields like consultants, lawyers, doctors, engineers or students.

2) He takes away the myths that Givers are necessarily nice or altruistic. They are as ambitious as Takers and Matchers. They just have a different way of pursuing their goals.

3) Givers succeed in creating a ripple effect by enhancing the success of others. The result is that they are surrounded by supporters and not by enemies.

How Givers succeed, and what is happening to Takers and Matchers, I will leave to your curiosity to read the book. I have lived all three personalities in my career. Now I feel very reinforced of giving free advice - without becoming a "doormat" and feeling used.

Dr. Ernst Bechinie, Master Certified Coach -

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