Take It From Me — Takers Aren’t All Bad
By Sarah Obuchowski
“Are you a giver, a taker, or matcher?” my teacher asked us. Uhhh, I don’t know, I thought to myself. My first instinct was that I’m a taker, and I didn’t think that it was necessarily a bad thing. I take advantage of every opportunity, and though I don’t think I’m selfish, I speak my mind and don’t let people take advantage of me. I thought being this type of person to be beneficial, or at least not that bad. At first. But then we started going over generalities about each type of person, and I was taken aback. The type of person I think myself to be doesn’t seem all that bad, and I don’t think my outgoing qualities label me as a bad person, but the qualities the class assigns takers are not kind. Though they may be true, many of them seem to skate over the better qualities that allow takers to get the job done.
Instead, they focused on selfishness and a lack of concern for others, all the while highlighting the good qualities of givers. Don’t get me wrong — everything they said was true, but it bothered me that takers were getting such a bad rap; I was visibly bothered in class. So, when the time came around for another blog write-up, I scribbled in my journal about focusing on the more positive aspects of takers. I hoped to put out some positive words for the all the takers who also find this area lacking.
My first step in this investigation was to confirm the type of person that I was so I took the test. Turns out, I am partially wrong — I am not a taker, at least not completely. My results were more of the matcher type, but there was a small percentage that was taker. These results made me feel a little better, but I was still convinced I needed to see the bright side of takers. However, that has proven to be a challenge because most of the websites I looked at discussed how takers were the villains in human symbiosis. Honestly, I couldn’t pinpoint too many positive aspects, either. I had to do a little more digging to find the silver lining.
To find some positive aspects, I went straight to the source: Adam Grant. He states that although takers are known for putting their own interests ahead of others, they are not “cruel or cutthroat” (Popova, n.d.). Instead, they have a mindset of I have to take care of myself because no one else will (Popova, n.d.). This thought isn’t incriminating; it’s just a matter of self-preservation, and many times, this concern proves to be valid (Popova, n.d.). Takers thrive in competitive environments, often allowing this competition to drive them towards success. Takers also have a huge network. Because they are so competitive and ambitious, they often move from person to person to see who can best help accomplish their mission, enabling them to gather a pretty big group of people to interact with (Wharton & Grant, 2013).
Another really interesting fact I found about Takers is that many of them don’t mean to be so dismissive of others (Wharton & Grant, 2013). They are just blinded by their own problems or contributions that they actually fail to see what others have done to help them (Wharton & Grant, 2013). One example of a taker exhibiting this blindness is Jonas Salk. When thinking back on the hard work he put into developing the polio vaccine, all he could remember was how he painstakingly slaved over his research until he came to a solution (Wharton & Grant, 2013). He was so involved in his own work that he failed to notice how much his colleagues helped him. Although he was displaying ignorance, he was not trying to be overtly unkind to those he worked with, and I think herein lays the misconception that takers are bad people (Wharton & Grant, 2013). They have different values that make them seem more selfish and inconsiderate, but they are not evil and out to get you (Wharton & Grant, 2013). They just put in a lot of work and want to get recognized, and when you think about it that way, it’s really not as bad.
For the sake of being thorough, takers do have plenty of flaws, and it would be remiss of me not to touch on them. Takers burn a lot of bridges by being over-competitive and glory-seeking, and these qualities mean they are not the most successful of the bunch (Popova, n.d.). In fact, not even matchers are the most successful, which I feel like goes against all logic (Popova, n.d.). Givers, for all their strengths and flaws, actually are found to be the most successful (Popova, n.d.). However, the most unsuccessful people also tend to be givers, displaying that our lot in life is all a matter of who you surround yourself with and the cards you decide to play.
Looking into the strengths of takers was a satisfying endeavor. It’s really easy to see the issues people associate with them, but being able to see past the exterior and understanding that takers aren’t bad people, that they just think differently and have biases, has been gratifying. I hope whoever reads this is better able to see takers as they are, and I hope that if a person who identifies as a taker is reading this they are better able to embrace who they are.
We’re all unique — givers, takers, matchers alike — and the ways we utilize our strengths and personalities are likewise different. Personally, accepting people as they are is a code I live by, and being able to accept that someone is a taker or giver without holding it against them seems like a good idea to me. I guess I’m a matcher for this reason. When I see someone trying to take, I give less, but when I see someone giving too much, I give a little bit more. Perfect harmony, right?
Popova, M. (n.d.). “Givers, Takers & Matchers: The Surprising Psychology of Success.” Brain Pickings. Web. 3 April 2017. https://www.brainpickings.org/2013/04/10/adam-grant-give-and-take/
Wharton, UPA & Grant, A. (2010). “Givers vs. Takers: The Surprising Truth about Who Gets Ahead.” Knowledge @ Wharton. Web. 3 April 2017. http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/givers-vs-takers-the-surprising-truth-about-who-gets-ahead/