Who are you when it comes to giving and taking?

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes 37 seconds

This is not about what I learned in class. It is what I have learned outside of the class – during breaks or at lunch time. We are surrounded by knowledge and by potential collaboration opportunities every day. Can you not see it? It’s the people around us. Nowadays, we can learn many things online. Nonetheless, asking someone for help can be the first step to actually start something new. It is like a promise to yourself because you are not alone in it anymore. If we are realistic usually our friends can explain a topic much better than the theory book anyways.


I learned that my fellow students are my mentors, supporters, motivators, idea jugglers, business partners, collaborators, leaders, knowledge databases, mirrors, critics, skill enhancements… they are givers. I wrote about Oprah Winfred’s quote “You get in life what you have the courage to ask for” on my blog. Asking someone for help was hard for me in the past, because I never wanted to be reliant on somebody. The ugly truth is we are reliant on each other – it is the only way to get better. I depend on the knowledge, advice and the feedback from others. Adam Grant (2016) did an interesting research about giving and taking. He tells about the three types of people in the workplace: givers, takers and matchers. I think the same counts for university or any other environment.


taker: what can you do for me?
giver: what can I do for you?
matcher: I do something for you if you do something for me.


He explains that givers are more at risk to burn out because they sacrifice themselves. They can be at the top but also at the bottom. Giving can be exhausting, so how do we deal with it? The secret is the 5-minute favour. This means to create as much value as you can within 5 minutes. If you deal with takers there is a small line between asking for help and taking advantage of people. I was lucky that I worked in an environment where I had people around me who were willing to give. They shared their knowledge and experience with me without asking for something in return. I am deeply thankful for that. I decided to mentor young females between 11-17 years old in my free time. I can help them prepare for their future and it is inspiring to hear their point of view. I can learn as much from them as they can learn from me. I made this promise to myself a long time ago: I will share as much knowledge as I can with the people who surround me because this is how I got the opportunity to be where I am right now. I will ask for help and support. If I give, I will give without asking for something in return. If I meet a taker I will still give them something – good advice.


If we all give there will be a balance and givers will succeed. Ask yourself: Are you a giver or a taker? Please be someone who gives on a healthy basis without asking for something in return.

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