Huntsman is what organizational psychologist Adam Grant calls, in his provocative new book, a "giver." In Give and Take, Grant, the youngest tenured
professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, wields a large body of social science research, much of it his own, to challenge
the idea that career success is a zero-sum game in which your gains equal my losses, a harmful idea that discourages people from helping each other out at
In Grant's book, the reader encounters three types of people: givers, takers, and matchers. Matchers reciprocate favors and good deeds tit-for-tat. Takers
try to tilt the balance of a transaction in their own favor, hoping to get more than they give -- the type of person who takes credit for someone else's
work. Givers are the opposite. Their hallmark is generosity. Crudely put, givers are focused on others, takers are focused on themselves, and matchers care
above all about fairness.
Most people are givers in their personal relationships. They act selflessly and try to contribute more than they take with those they love. But when these
people enter the workforce, their style of interacting with others changes dramatically. As Grant told me in an interview, "There is an extraordinary
number of people who are in a giver mindset at home and a matcher or taker mindset in the work setting." Only 8 percent of people describe themselves as
givers at work. That's because most people think it's safer to operate like a taker or matcher at work; givers, they think, are chumps who will fall behind
in the game of life.
Grant explodes that myth in his book, showing that givers are among the most successful people in business. They may also be the happiest. "There is
powerful evidence," Grant tells me "that givers experience more meaning
in their work than takers or matchers."
This is important considering that Americans spend most of their waking hours -- most of their lives -- at work. The average American man works 8.4 hours per
day and the average American woman works 7.7 hours a day. How they feel in those hours is a major determinant of their well-being. But, according to the American Psychological Association, nearly 70 percent of
Americans cite work as a major source of stress in their lives and four out of ten say that they experience stress at work on a daily basis. One report indicates that over
half of working Americans are unsatisfied and unhappy with their jobs. The top person people don't like being around is, according to the National Time Use
survey, their boss. Bosses and work seem to be significant sources of unhappiness for many people.
When people are stressed out, their first instinct is to protect themselves -- or to retreat into a taker mentality. But operating like a giver may actually
be more effective in buffering against stress and enhancing well-being. On its face, this is counter-intuitive. Time is a scarce resource, especially for
people who are stressed. Being a giver involves taking time away from yourself to help someone else. This could seemingly aggravate stress levels, but it actually