Are Introverts Givers or Takers? Does Managing Our Energy Limit Our Generosity ?

Are you a giver or a taker? Deeply think about this. Do you often give to others without an agenda for reciprocation? Or do you  make sure you are the winner in every transaction? Or are you a matcher, someone who gives as much as they get and maintains equanimity in their interactions? As I read Adam Grant’s new book, Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success, give and takethese questions sizzle in my head.  Throughout the day I size-up the individuals I encounter.  Definitely a Taker…always there to extend a hand… giving but wants something from me.

Of course, I question my own placement. No one wants to admit being a Taker.  Matchers seem common or slightly underachieving. I want to be a Giver, but am I?

I help others who have no means or plans to return the favor. I do what I can to help my friends feel good and suffer less.  I volunteer at the school. Umm, I’m a generous tipper…

The truth is I could do so much more.

I give to my children  —sometimes begrudgingly. My extended family gets the shaft.  I don’t help them much at all because they are far away and my immediate responsibilities eat up a lot of my generosity and energy.

Introverts Must Mind Their Energy

Introverts constantly gauge the energy expended in relationships and activities.  Even if the gauging occurs subconsciously, we care for ourselves by minding our reactions and energetic output.  This is why introverts often limit themselves to dear and meaningful relationships.  The reciprocation necessary to maintain countless minor relationships is daunting and potentially draining.

And yet… I want to do good things.  I want to be present for many.  I want to connect and foster connections for others.

I am a selective giver, which could be construed as a matcher, but I am not strategic about giving.  I simply offer help/attention to the most in need or the ones I am closest to personally. I am not looking for a favor trade.

How Givers Affect the Work Environment

According to Grant, the majority of people are matchers at work. Competitive, self-interest based work environments encourage latticecrust piematching and taking.  No one wants to be the ‘chump’ or doormat. In Give and Take, Grant says givers actually expand the success or glory pie for everyone by creating more opportunities for giving instead of claiming all the credit for themselves. Success is not a zero-sum game in Giving Land.

I watch my children hoard compliments and assistance as if passing them out somehow takes away from their own potential.  I remember feeling the same way when I was young, maybe even into my 30s. :/

I eventually realized compliments are free gifts that lighten the load of others. They require very little effort (bonus for introvert energy reserves) and have instant impact. I later heard someone, possibly Oprah;), say, There is no limit to the amount of love and success in the world. The truth hit me.  I didn’t have to beat others in order to succeed.  I didn’t have to compete with others for love. There is an infinite supply of both. I can give love without fear of losing something for myself. All this sounds saintly and I can’t say that I embody these beliefs consistently, but I am aware of them. I aim to give freely but there is something that holds me back…

A need to replenish within.

Emotions by Karina Llergo Salto

Emotions by Karina Llergo Salto

Introverts Are Matchers?

I have to go internal in order to restock my personal supply of love, energy, imagination, creativity, giving ability. I need solitude or quiet meaningful connection in order to glow with giving.

I am a matcher with myself. I need equanimity between giving to others and giving to myself.

 Surprise Bonuses of Giving

Givers land at the bottom AND top of the success ladder. The more frequent the giving the more likely the individual will be at the top of her game. Givers often reap rewards for their kindness (even though they don’t require them), but it takes time.  Givers receive rewards in the longterm.

Personally, I have added more lovelies and socializing to my world lately.  I’ve noticed something fascinating. My energy is expanding along with my social circle.  I am not drained by the additional people. I am choosing energizing and giving individuals. Their giving nature is contagious. The activities can still wear me down but I  mindfully seek space between them, space to breathe, reflect and renew my generosity.

How giving are you? Are your closest friends givers, takers or matchers? 

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  3. Persephone
    September 21, 2013

    I love giving, when I can. I have such a limited energy reserve that I’ve been limiting the types of things I can do, and who I socialize with. On the surface, giving comes across as a bright, happy, socially-energetic type activity, but I think giving has many more forms. I prefer behind the scenes type giving, the kind that can be done alone, or from home, or before things kick off. There is such a glaring difference between the fundraising breed of PTA Moms at my school, and myself. I am not a classroom mom. I am not a PTA mom. My heart aches, because I support them, and I am very thankful there are wonderful extrovert moms stepping in and running the show, but I need to stay home. In the preschool years, I loved getting projects to take home, things to prep for future art lessons. I am not a fundraiser, or party planner.
    Socially, I love neighbors. I love that I have a network within walking distance. I love that we help each other out and send over eggs or a cup of sugar when needed or sending over a plate of food when one is sick, or taking care of cats and plants when people travel. I love being able to chat, and I really love some of the more spontaneous mini parties out on the sidewalk. Taking care of neighbors is giving. My neighborhood provides me with a manageable micro world, with limits—- I know this sounds awful, but a few of us have tea in each others homes…short and sweet, others there really have been no extended periods of visiting indoors. The socializing is just right, energy wise. To compare….when my brother, who I love and adore, comes to stay the weekend, it is incredibly exhausting to have someone in my house all day, not to mention all the household prep and worry that goes into prepping.

    Know your limits, right?

    • Brenda Knowles
      September 23, 2013

      You gave so many lovely and manageable examples of giving. I know the teachers love behind the scenes helpers. I enjoy volunteering at the school but have limited it to teaching Partners in Art (because it’s such a great program and I have as much fun learning about the art/artists as the kids do) and helping with Fitness Testing. I have never been a PTA or party planning mom. I do not like organizing or entertaining others. I know my limits as you said.:)

      My neighborhood sounds like yours. Every 6 weeks or so a group of about 5 of us go out for lunch or dinner as a girls’ outing. Otherwise we don’t socialize much. Some belong to the nearby country club (we used to) and do their socializing there. I’m good without that.

      Thank you for sharing your giving experiences.:)

  4. introvertfiles
    May 22, 2013

    I guess I’m sometimes a giver and sometimes a taker. I hope it evens out in the end, more on the giver side. I’m like you, though, I need my time to replenish my energy, but I guess when I take time for myself, I’m taking something instead of giving. Does that count towards the taking side?

    • brennagee
      May 22, 2013

      I feel like we shouldn’t count the time we take for ourselves to recharge but that’s probably my introvert bias.;) If the renewal time leads to a more generous spirit then I don’t think it counts.

      I know I wear the different hats of giver/taker/matcher. This book has given me an awareness that is making me focus on giving. I like it.

      Thanks for your comment. I love your blog! I spent some time on it the other day and intend to return.:)

  5. 3D Eye
    May 19, 2013

    Perhaps your blog is a way in which you give freely to others – potentially millions of us around the world! – as well as a means of self-expression and self-discovery. To share your thoughts, your insights, your experiences, your sources of ideas and inspiration, as honestly and clearly as you do each week has always struck me as an act of extreme generosity. In my experience very few people write or even talk with such honesty and openness, even to close friends. I’ve learnt a lot about introversion from your work, and I thank you very sincerely for that. G

    • brennagee
      May 19, 2013

      I do believe that my writing is one way I give to others. Fortunately for me, it also a way I give to myself. It’s delicious self-anaylizing that I allow others to witness.;) My therapy.
      I am so thrilled to have heightened your awareness of introversion. That is one of my primary goals of space2live.
      I don’t know why, but I don’t have a big fear of sharing intimate details of my struggles, passions and growth. Maybe it’s easy to hide behind a computer screen and not see reactions to my writing face to face. The one topic I have the hardest time sharing is parenting as an introvert. I have done it but a dark bit of shame always shadows my words and I do fear negative reactions from non-understanding readers. Interestingly, the parenting posts elicit the most heartfelt gratitude from fellow introverted parents.
      Thanks so much for your support G. I am horribly lagging in keeping up with your amazing pieces on 3Di. Such worthy material. I miss your insights.

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