4 Types of People. That’s it.

Givers, Takers, The Smart Ones and The Super Smart Ones. I wish I knew earlier — great parents fall into the last category.

Karthik Rajan
May 29 · 4 min read
Photo by Jordan M. Lomibao

When I was young, I thought I needed to achieve.

When I was young, I was taught to be nice to others.

What I needed all along was to connect.

Why did all this come flooding back? I was recently watching something interesting on TV tidbits. Apparently, with COVID cases on the decline in the US, sales of hand sanitizer and comfortable sweat pants are on the decline. On the other hand- lip gloss, beard grooming kits and teeth whitening strips are on the increase.

I chuckled — left to ourselves, cocooned in our homes, we often prioritize being comfortable over making an impression. Yet, when things start to open up, our urge to connect triumphs comfort.

Can the urge to connect be a kernel for a thought?

We have numerous ways to classify people. Never stumbled upon one that pivots around our human need to connect.

There is strong relationship between how connected we feel based on how others treat us.

So, here is my version about people based on how they treat you (not how you treat them)

  1. Givers: Treat you the way they like to be treated.
  2. Takers: Treat you one way and expect to be treated back with kid gloves.
  3. Smart Ones: Treat you the way you like to be treated.
  4. Super Smart Ones: Treat you the way you like to be treated, if the cost of treating you that way is less for them. Great parents come to mind here.

How to spot the difference between them especially 1 and 3?

Takers (Number 2) are easy to spot. Your gut will highlight it to you. If they branch out into negative territory, they are the toxic kind. Beware, around them, you are like a frog in slowly warming water on a stove top. You don’t think about jumping out as you are emotionally trapped or they warm the water ever so slightly that you feel the heat but you don’t get the full urge to jump out.

Then, there are the non-toxic takers. Most of them are so self absorbed that they are always consistent — self absorbed. ‘I’ is their favorite word. You can feel it before they speak the second part of their sentences.

Givers (Number 1) are most of the normal folks in real life. You can observe them and their behavior is a tell on how they like to treated. Learn from it and thrive.

Smart ones (Number 3) are the harder ones because we don’t know if they are givers or the smart ones. The simple rule of thumb, see how they treat other people. Are they consistent or customized? If they tailor their treatments, you know what type of person they are.

Super smart (Number 4) ones are different from smart ones. The difference between them is self preservation. Sometimes, Number 3 can feel like a doormat inside — useful but used.

That’s also the difference between nurturing children and spoiling them.

Number 4 is about inner joy. What is of great value to others but less cost to you. Giving at its finest — comfortable mind inside comfortable clothes radiates warmth — one person at a time, customized to perfection.

People Never Forget How You Treat Them. Yet, Don’t Be a Vegetarian Lion.

Life is like sitting in a coffee shop and observing people. The general life advice is be interested rather than interesting. My take is more nuanced — be more observant on treatment first, their interesting content comes a distant second.

After all, people never forget how they felt.

What is true for others is true for you.

People do not forget how you treat them.

Most of us are taught to be nice to others. But we have blinders on how others treat us — until it’s too late, especially in relationships. Two quotes that are close to my heart are re-quoted below.

“Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you’re a good person is like expecting a lion not to attack you because you’re a vegetarian.”

“You might be the sweetest peach on the tree, but some people just don’t like peaches.”

Our noble upbringings train us to be nice to others. Our reference is often ourselves. Flip it, observe people, classify them and simplify your life.

Your inner joy is yours. Your happiness, however, depends on who you surround yourself with.

Connect better. Make your relationships work in ways that make sense to you.

In other words, please be selfish on what matters.

Tidbit: I once asked my dad, when I was young and he was around, how he was able to make a call on who to do business with. In those days, growing up in India, the legal system was so back logged that it would take decades on dispute resolution. So, most dealings were on handshakes (even when there was paper documents).

My dad said, “Observe people, they share more than they realize.” One consistent barometer I have found is how people treat others. Geniuses can be a*holes and they are not worth your time. The best hires in my career are those who treated the front office receptionist and the waiter during the lunch interview with dignity.

Karthik Rajan is the author of the “connect the dots” short story-letter, available at this link.

Aha Moments

Left Brain Logic Intersects With Right Brain Communication

Karthik Rajan

Written by

Stories to fuel your mind. Theme: life’s hidden treasures in plain sight. Goal: Warm tone, solid content, crisp stories. About me: one google search away.

Aha Moments

Left Brain Logic Intersects With Right Brain Communication

Karthik Rajan

Written by

Stories to fuel your mind. Theme: life’s hidden treasures in plain sight. Goal: Warm tone, solid content, crisp stories. About me: one google search away.

Aha Moments

Left Brain Logic Intersects With Right Brain Communication

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store