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“The world is composed of givers and takers. The takers may eat better, but the givers sleep better.”

-Unknown

A few weeks ago, we sent out a tip about the persona of results. The idea behind this is that the persona you adopt at any one time will determine the results you get. There are 2 fundamental archetypal personas: givers and takers. Many of you have asked that we include one more tip on this topic, about these 2 main fundamental archetypes.

Certainly the concept of ‘givers’ and ‘takers’ is one that generates a great deal of strong feeling amongst people – many of whom feel that they are the givers in life and are taken for granted by the takers.

So what do we mean by the givers and the takers? See if you can determine the difference in the following conversation:

Jane: ‘We have a problem Jim, and I don’t know what to do about it.’

Jim: ‘What is the problem?’

Jane: ‘The computer system is down and it is affecting everyone’s ability to work.’

Jim: ‘So what do you want to do?’

Jane: ‘I don’t know. I think the reason for the problem is that the system was not properly configured in the first place. It is really the fault of that new IT manager.’

Jim: ‘So what can we do about this problem? How can I help?’

Jane: ‘Well the difficulty is that there are a lot of people who are experiencing downtime…’

Jim: ‘Tell you what, let me go and find out what is going on and see if there is a way we can resolve this really quickly.’

If this conversation sounds familiar in any way, you have come across the basic archetypes of givers and takers in the world.

Givers are those people who approach the world from a positive perspective. Jim is the ‘giver’ in the conversation above. He thrives by asking forward-looking questions such as: ‘what is possible, or what can I do?’ And very quickly they put themselves into the solution frame, by offering to help: ‘what can I do?’

A giver has a high degree of personal responsibility, and seems to believe that if a solution is needed it is down to him. As a result, a giver will always empowers himself by asking proactive questions that begin to move things forward. Jim quickly picks up the situation from Jane and steps in to help out.

Takers, on the other hand seem to approach the world from a negative perspective. Jane is the taker here, and is seeing a world full of problems. She thrives by keeping the focus on what is wrong in this situation and continually makes statements such as: ‘the problem is out of our control’.

Jane does not realise it, but focussing on the problems keeps her disempowered and unable to deal with the situations she faces. In some way, though, this is intentional, because a taker (often unconsciously) seems to be able to avoid proactive service by continually re-acting to the situation. She avoids taking the initiative to do something about the problems she comes across and leave this up to someone else.

If you are a manager, you might be noticing that some of these descriptions reflect some of the people in your team. If you have takers in your team, it is worth remembering that they approach the world from a ‘problem frame of reference’. If you want to keep someone in the problem frame, the best approach is to ask them the following questions:

  • What is the problem?
  • How long have you had it?
  • Who is responsible for it?
  • Who should you blame?
  • Describe your worst experience with this problem
  • Why haven’t you solved it yet?

If, however, you want to lift them out of the ‘problem frame’ and encourage them to move forward into the ‘outcome frame of reference’, you would use the following questions:

  • What do you want?
  • How will you know when you have got it?
  • What difference will it make when you have it?
  • What resources do you already have that will help you?
  • What resources do you need?
  • Think of something similar that you have achieved in the past
  • What is the next step?

And remember, at certain times of your life, you will take on the persona of both the giver and the taker. This is appropriate. However, when you are at work, and earning a salary, your task is to remain in the giver role. And as a manager, you are not only managing others, you also have to manage yourself. Can you be absolutely sure that you remain in the outcome frame this week? Can you keep offering your ‘giver’ to the world?





© Anne Fuller-Good
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