Friday, March 29, 2013

Why Hate on a Giver?

"The greatest untapped source of motivation, he [Adam Grant] argues, is a sense of service to others; focusing on the contribution of our work to other peoples’ lives has the potential to make us more productive than thinking about helping ourselves."

This week's New York Times Magazine will feature the article, Is Giving the Secret to Getting Ahead? by Susan Dominus. The article explores the work of Adam Grant, a Wharton professor, and author of the forthcoming, Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success.

As the title and quote (above) suggest, the book is about how people's productivity at work increases when they are motivated by being of service to others, no matter the field.  According to the article, "The most successful givers... are those who rate high in concern for others but also in self-interest."

I enjoyed the article and look forward to reading the book. What astonished me was the amount of vitriol directed at Grant, and his work from the (at this writing) 145 commenters. Grant seems like an extreme giver, but he acknowledges it and recognizes that some of his giving comes from anxiety, and his fear of death. He's not perfect (no one is), so why in the world do people have to be so mean to someone who enjoys helping others? It made me sad.

After you read the article, I'd love to know:

What do you think made people direct so much anger towards this man and his work?

P.S. Blogging to Inspire starts next week!

Flickr photo credit: Just Give Me Water by Peter Korsh


  1. People's responses to anything powerful that they read are almost always all over the map, as these are. The negative comments are probably from people whose worldviews could not (yet) be changed by this article, although it is worldview-changing! The other possibility I see is that negative commenters are in the painful process of having the article confront things about themselves they know they want to change. They don't realize that the negative stuff they are writing is really about them, the way they feel about themselves. People are always progressing, at every minute. We change for the better but sometimes it can look like we are changing for the worse.
    There are a couple of things that go unsaid in this article that are important to be said. First, the "deeper subsconscious" place that the University of Michigan students began making their much more successful fundraising calls from is called the heart. The changes didn't show up cognitively because they didn't experience them in their minds, they experienced them in their hearts, which is where we "process" empathy. Second, the three categories of givers, matchers, and takers described in the research Grant did need to be refined to include two types of givers--you could call them self-actualizing and masochistic. They are operating from such different states of mind and beliefs about self as well as motivation that they are really not the same in anything except outward action and even that only part of the time--if you drew this distinction, you could see quite a clear difference between nearly everything about the self-actualizing giver and the masochistic giver.
    Thank you for asking us, Britt.

    1. Thanks you for sharing your wise and interesting reflections, Beth. It's nice to "hear" your voice again (:

  2. Anonymous7:57 PM

    Dr. Grant is the kindest, smartest person I have ever met and a fantastic husband, father and teacher. The haters could not be further from the truth. They know nothing about him-his dedication to his family and his work. He's an amazing role model.

  3. Anonymous8:13 PM

    Thank you for posting this.

  4. Some people are just jealous of other's success.

    1. Hi Cynthia,

      That definitely can be true.

  5. Anonymous2:56 PM

    I don't know why someone who appears to be so generous and kind would receive such harsh responses. I know frequently people wish for others to be respectful, kind, and to help them out or land hand. My colleagues ask things of me daily and when I don't comply, I usually get sass. But here is a man that always helps out in any way he can and truly cares about people. It seems like that's a type of person everyone would want to know. My only reasoning behind harsh comments would be jealousy. Perhaps those who posted poorly are jealous that they cannot fill shoes like that, and if they can't- no one else can? It is just a thought.

    But thank you for posting this! I am so so happy I found it because that is a great article and I will definitely be ordering the book. Now that I found this I will also be posting it on my blog (! Thanks for sharing!! I love your posts!

    1. Hi Samantha,

      I agree, it could be jealousy. I have also recently started reading Brene Brown's book, Daring Greatly, where she talks about the power of being vulnerable. In some ways, being so generous and open is a very vulnerable thing to do, and I wonder if it makes people feel uncomfortable.

      Thanks for reading Have Fun, Do Good. I love the design of your blog. It's beautiful!

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