Give and Take Book Summary I Adam Grant

Share with:

Book – Give and Take (Summary)

Author – Adam Grant

Genre – Self-help Book

Published in – 2013

“Some people, when they do someone a favour, are always looking for a chance to call it in. And some aren’t, but they’re still aware of it—still, regard it as a debt. But some don’t even do that. After helping others, they just go on to something else. We should be like that”. —Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor.

Every time we interact with another person at work, we have a choice to make: do we try to claim as much value as we can, or contribute value without worrying about what we receive in return?

Professionally, few of us act purely like givers or takers, adopting a third style instead. We become Matchers”, striving to preserve an equal balance of giving and getting.

Matchers operate on the principle of fairness: when they help others, they protect themselves by seeking reciprocity.

Adam grant photo

About the Author

Adam Grant has been Wharton’s top-rated professor for 7 straight years. As an organizational psychologist, he is a leading expert on how we can find motivation and meaning, and live more generous and creative lives.

He is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of 5 books that have sold millions of copies and been translated into 35 languages: Think Again, Give and Take, Originals, Option B, and Power Moves. 

About the Book

Adam argues that Givers are more successful unlike it is normally assumed and provide startling studies and stories that illuminate how giving can be more powerful—and less dangerous—than most people believe.

He further explains that Givers are found at the top as well as at bottom of the Corporate world and explores what separates the Champs from the Chumps.

The book is divided into Two Parts

PART 1 unveils the principles of givers’ success, illuminating how and why Givers rise to the top. The main four areas explored are networking, collaborating, evaluating, and influencing.

PART 2 – shifts focus from the benefits of giving to the costs, and how they can be managed. How Givers protect themselves against burnout and avoid becoming pushovers and doormats.

Few Key Ideas From The Book

1) Takers, Givers and Matchers

  • Takers have a distinctive signature: they like to get more than they give. Givers are a relatively rare breed. They tilt reciprocity in the other direction, preferring to give more than they get.
  • Takers are self-focused, and are lookout for what others can offer them, whereas Givers are other-focused, and look out what others need from them.
  • Though, Professionally few of us act purely like Givers or Takers, adopting a third style instead. We become “Matchers”, striving to preserve an equal balance of giving and getting.
  • Matchers operate on the principle of fairness: when they help others, they protect themselves by seeking reciprocity.

2) Self Fulfilling Prophecies

  • According to one research, it depends on teachers, how they perceive their students. If they are told certain students has more potential they treat them differently than others and as a result these students achieve more.
  • Takers have difficulties seeing best in others, as they see others as competition. Matchers wait for sign of potential before they commit support.
  • Givers however have natural tendency to look at people in terms of what they can become rather than who they are and as a result have a tendency to uplift others.


1) Dominance and Prestige

  • Research suggests that there are two fundamental paths to influence: dominance and prestige.
  • When we establish dominance, we gain influence because others see us as strong, powerful, and authoritative. When we earn prestige, we become influential because others respect and admire us.

2) Powerful v/s Powerless Communication

  • To establish dominance, takers specialize in powerful communication: they speak forcefully, raise their voices to assert their authority, express certainty to project confidence, promote their accomplishments, and sell with conviction and pride.
  • Powerless communicators (Givers) tend to speak less assertively, expressing plenty of doubt and relying heavily on advice from others. Givers talk in ways that signal vulnerability, revealing their weaknesses and making use of disclaimers, hedges, and hesitations.

How Givers develop prestige in four domains of influence: presenting, selling, persuading, and negotiating.

Adam explains with examples when persuading, powerless speech always garners more support than powerful speech.

Powerful speech works well in leadership roles when all members are followers, however, when team members are proactive powerless speech will serve well to the leader and boost team performance drastically.

1) Presenting

  • Takers tend to worry that revealing weaknesses will compromise their dominance and authority. Givers are much more comfortable expressing vulnerability: they’re interested in helping others.
  • Givers by making themselves vulnerable, givers can actually build prestige.
  • There’s a twist though: expressing vulnerability is only effective if the audience receives other signals establishing the speaker’s competence.

2) Selling

  • When selling, Givers ask questions in a way that conveys the desire to help customers, not take advantage of them.
  • By asking questions and listening to the answers, Givers shows their customers that they care about their interests. This builds prestige.
  • Asking questions opened the door for customers to experience what the psychologist James Pennebaker calls the joy of talking.

3) Persuading

  • speech styles send signals about who’s a giver and who’s a taker. Takers tend to use powerful speech: they’re assertive and direct. Givers uses more powerless speech, talking with tentative markers like hesitations, tag questions.
  • Givers use soft approaches, putting across their ideas as suggestions and are not concerns about credit. People are more open to indirect suggestions rather than straight up solutions.

4) Negotiating

  • While Takers try to create dominance in negotiation and Matchers call in a favor as reciprocity, Givers adopt different strategy like seeking advice and let people offer solutions.
  • Research shows that advice seeking is a surprisingly effective strategy for exercising influence when we lack authority. Advice seeking has four benefits: learning, perspective taking, commitment, and flattery.

How Givers at Bottom can Move up to Top (From Chumps To Champs)

1) Chunking & Sprinkling

  • Chunking is planning to give in a particular day or block of time, where is sprinkling giving randomly as and when required or needed.
  • Research shows that chunking is more effective and giver finds it more satisfying and as a result able to contribute fully, whereas sprinkling leaves given exhausted with no real sense of satisfaction of giving.

2) Sincerity Screening

  • Its important to identify genuine givers and do a sincerity screening before offering help, as givers are more prone to frauds, cheating due to their nature of seeing best in people, trusting them.
  • The ability to recognize agreeable takers as fakers is what protects givers against being exploited. They don’t mistake agreeableness of person for giver and disagreeable for takers.

3) Generous tit-for-tat – The Adaptable Givers

  • Generous tit-for-tat is an Otherish (they care about benefiting others, but they also have ambitious goals for advancing their own interests) strategy.
  • Selfless givers make the mistake of trusting others all the time whereas, Otherish givers start out with trust as the default assumption, but they’re willing to adjust their reciprocity styles depending on other person.
  • When dealing with takers, shifting into matcher mode is a self-protective strategy.


If you are a selfless giver, you will find many insights to move to the top. If you are Matcher you will find ample opportunities to help others without hampering your success.

If you are Taker, this book will convince you to move towards giving, mastering the skill of giving and succeeding while uplifting others instead of using them as ladders.

You can download the Give and Take E-Book here. If, you like this book. You may also check out “The Slight Edge”, which signifies the power of steady actions.

I hope this summary of Give and Take helped you in some way. Do share your thoughts on the book in the Comment.

Wish you all the success.


Share with:

5 thoughts on “Give and Take Book Summary I Adam Grant”

  1. I?¦m now not positive about the place you’re getting your information, but great topic. I must spend a while finding out more or working out more. Thanks for the magnificent information I used to be in search of this information for my mission.

  2. Simply wish to say your article is as astonishing. The clarity in your post is just nice and I can assume you’re an expert on this subject. Well with your permission let me grab your feed to keep up to date with forthcoming posts. Thanks a million and please keep up the gratifying work.

  3. I take pleasure in, it cause I discovered exactly what I used to be taking a look for. You’ve ended my four-day long hunt! God Bless you, man. Have a nice day. Bye


Leave a Comment