#172: Introverts and HSPs…Are You a Giver, Taker, or Matcher? [Podcast]

Which of these categories do you fall into: giver, taker, or matcher?

I recently re-read Give and Take by psychologist and university professor, Adam Grant. The book not only provides solid evidence and examples of how givers, takers and matchers all operate in the real world. But Grant also helps us understand ourselves and think about how we can become better givers without burning out or spreading ourselves too thinly.

Giver, Taker, or Matcher?

What are Givers, Matchers, and Takers?

  • Givers seek out ways to be helpful and give to others without any deeper agenda
  • Matchers play “tit for tat”—they keep an eye on the social bank account and do favours for favours
  • Takers are focussed on getting as much as they can from situations, relationships, and people

If you are an introvert or highly sensitive person this is clearly going to be an issue you will think about. I have had emails from people who have lost sight of boundaries in relationships. Those who attract narcissists and energy vampires that have bled them dry and they don’t know what to do. They have shut off, isolated themselves, and declared that they cannot afford to be givers any longer.

According to the fascinating findings in the book Grant says that givers are the least successful people (unproductive, performed poorly in exams, made the least money etc). The takers didn’t perform best either because the matchers kept them in check, essentially seeing it as their job to punish anyone who didn’t give back. But matchers didn’t perform best either…

Givers did.

Givers are the worst performers, but they’re also the best performers. Grant says that being a giver can do one of two things for you…“it can sink your career, or it can accelerate it”. It can make you unable to perform as well as others, to be walked all over, and to be taken advantage of…or it can be the bedrock of your success and wellbeing as a human.

So how can you become a successful giver?

Well that’s what I explore in this week’s episode of the podcast.

“You can easily judge the character of a person by how he or she treats those who can do nothing for them.” – Malcolm S. Forbes.

Brenda Knowles wrote an article about this subject a while back and she picked out the three things we can do if we want to be givers who are successful and happy rather than the opposite option.

  1. Spot the takers in your midst.
  2. Engage in “five-minute favours”
  3. Don’t restrict your interactions to just givers

Brenda says “I am a selective giver, which could be construed as a matcher, but I am not strategic about giving.” We all have to make choices. We have finite resources. The key is what drives those choices. Is it a cold and calculating sense of what you can get, or a desire to give because that’s what you are compelled to do?

Givers share praise. They encourage people. They say thank you and well done. They look people in the eye and smile. It doesn’t cost much to extend your giver-heart.

Over to You

Are you a giver, taker, or matcher? Is there anything that stops you from being a giver? I’d love to hear your thoughts so please leave your response in the comments below.


Watch the Episode:


Adam Grant: Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success (The Book)

Dan Pink: Drive (The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us)

Jeff Goins: The Single Best Way to Grow Your Influence

Forbes: Pay It Forward With The Five-Minute Favor

The Huffington Post: Are You A Giver, Taker Or Matcher? Adam Grant Shares How It Could Affect Your Success

Psychology Today: Are You a Giver or a Taker?

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


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  1. I think what stops me from being a giver is the cold, cruel return of the feeling of nothingness. In general, I think I am a giver. I think everybody was born as givers. Because nobody has nothing to give. But what draws us to choose our reaction is the conclusion from experiences and the soul we have. Being an HSP is like understanding a little deeper why we should give, match or take. This may turns the HSPs to be the scale and left them with questions instead of choosing. And from their experiences and conclusion, they can be a strong giver, matcher or taker. Or they turn themselves to be all of them. And this drives confusion in them and they are unable to identify themselves.
    But there’s one more question: What do we choose to give?
    Honestly, this drives me crazier and crazier. I have a doubt that everyone is different and a little scared to positively say what I think.

  2. I like to think of myself as a giver, but it would be more accurate to say I kind of oscillate between giving, matching, and taking. And the fulcrum of that is what you mentioned: energy level.

    My capacity for giving depends on how secure I feel with myself. When I’m balanced and centered and brimming with it, like now, it really has no choice but to spread outward. When I’m depleted but not able to find a safe space either in the environment or myself, that’s when I start taking.

    When I’m taking, it’s because I feel an emptiness in myself and begin grasping for something to fill it. Goes on a for a period, I realize I’m doing it, and step away from the table. Because it doesn’t feel good to me.

    I think for most of my life I’ve primarily been a matcher. When I gave and wasn’t getting enough back, I started feeling resentful. I got annoyed that the people around me didn’t seem to be meeting halfway.

    The quote that comes to mind:

    “Loving people live in a loving world. Hostile people live in a hostile world. Same world.” — Wayne Dyer

    Not only are we the measure of those we hang around, but our understanding of what’s real tends to be a mirror of what we experience and the perception it creates. When cultural memes champion a given set of values, that’s going to color the way people see the world itself.

    Now, my own personality is a perfect storm of moderate introversion, high-sensitivity, and no small amount of general anxiety and mild depression. Thanks to those traits, I have a much easier time giving to others when I’ve given myself what I need first. Some of my most hostile and destructive actions in life came from a place of deprivation and paranoia.

    At the same time, I firmly believe that the natural state of the human spirit makes us givers. We’re all part of the grand organism that is our universe. We’re all composed from its materials, and eventually we’ll be recycled and that energy of creation will take a new form.

    In general, not only does it just feel good to give something back and contribute—to pay it forward—it feels right. The root of a good chunk of my malaise, when I feel it, comes from not quite knowing how I can actually do that. I don’t know or don’t trust what I can give back to the world.

    As far as being a giver, a taker, or a matcher, it’s really hard to say because I’ve been all of those at different points in my life. Especially when my depressive episodes distort the way I think and react to the world.

    The wonderful thing about being human is that it isn’t a finite state. A taker can become a giver with effort and a giver can become a taker in turn. Matchers can slide in either direction as well. We are all capable of that oscillation, for better or worse.

    I feel like such categorization strikes such a nerve in me because I already have a chimera of anxiety, depression, and apathy that rears its ugly head at the worst times to tell me “Your road’s gonna end here. You will never be any better than this, so why keep going?”

    What gets me up every day: Today’s actions inform tomorrow’s challenges. Since each of us is a conduit to the greater energy of the universe, I like to think that what we give to others compounds and feeds into the greater organism and makes it stronger.

    As I get older, I’m realizing that even if the world depletes us sometimes, there’s a reservoir of energy to be found in the ley lines that connect the self to the soul. And one source is acts of kindness and assistance.

    I honestly can’t think of a time I’ve regretted giving to someone. Even if they took more than they needed. I can think of several times I’ve regretted taking too much from them.

    That said, if giving feels invigorating and taking feels uncomfortable, it’s matching that feels like torture. It’s because, as you said in the podcast, it’s too easy to get caught up in analysis. And that’s something I’m very good at. Matching makes me think too much about value and who is providing more of it or whether I’m providing enough to justify what I take.

    The monster in my head is best kept at bay when I’m not measuring what I give or what I expect to receive. Whenever we feel attuned to the wellspring of universal energy, the spirit is almost compelled to put something back in.

    Do you think that’s been the case in your life as well?

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