Five Ways To Be A Smart Giver

When it comes to getting ahead at the office, you've probably heard the adage, "Nice guys finish last."

But Adam Grant, a Wharton professor and an organizational psychologist, says that workers who only look out for themselves are playing a short game. Instead, it's those who lend a helping hand, even when they have nothing to gain, who can see long-term benefits, well after the favor has passed.

In his book Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success, Grant unroots the traditional ideas of how to climb the corporate ladder by showing how givers can prosper more than takers.

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share the key differences that Grant outlines between givers and takers, as well as his five tips for being a smart giver, as shared by The Muse, an online job search and coaching website.

Drawing upon decades of social science research and his own studies, Grant divides workers into three categories: takers, matchers and givers.

A taker is a person who takes all the credit for a group project , or who stops answering your emails once you do him or her a favor. The matcher looks out for his or her own interests but is also willing to lend a helping hand— if they know it will be repaid.

The giver helps others without thinking of repayment or whether they already owe the person a favor. They'll cover shift hours, finish a presentation or take notes at a meeting for a colleague who was unable to attend. In the workplace, the problem with being a giver arises when your desire to be generous infringes on your own journey toward success.

If being more of a giver is your goal, consider Grant's five tips:

1. Follow the five-minute rule. Be willing to do something that will take five minutes or less of your time. While this timeframe isn't set in stone, it establishes a solid standard for a favor that could do good for someone else but won't distract you from your own responsibilities. When your workload slows down, or if you have available time during your workday, offer to help a colleague chip away at his or her workload, or offer to assemble materials for next month's trade show. A few minutes of effort could go a long way.

2. Focus on adding high value. There isn't a single, tried-and-true way to be a successful giver— and giving often doesn't look like the traditional act of charity work that we might imagine. Instead, many of the most productive givers focus their energies on helping in the ways they're best at, rather than stretching themselves too thin by doing good in every way possible. In a group project, this may involve focusing on a few key tasks, while delegating other work that plays to the strengths of your colleagues.

3. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Grant says that a common misconception associated with being a giver is that a person will constantly be on the tail-end of exchanges, giving but never receiving. Instead, Grant explains, there are different types of giving, which result in taking-which is using someone for someone else's advantage-and receiving, which is accepting help. For instance, a giver would ask for help with a team project, give his or her colleagues credit for their work and then be sure to help out other teammates that were working on the same project.

4. Don't trust everyone. If you're giving more than you're getting, it's easy for someone to take advantage of your generosity, both in and out of the workplace. If you notice someone is consistently benefiting from your help, but never seems to have time to return the favor, consider acting more like a matcher. Instead of constantly giving to that person, hold that person accountable for lending you a hand as well.

5. Reach out to acquaintances. One of the most important benefits of giving is that it creates a wider, more diverse network of people who you've helped in the past. These people will remember your generosity, which makes it more likely for them to lend a hand in return. You can use this network in the future for personal connections, or to put a colleague in touch with someone who may be able to assist with their specific needs.

Source: Adam Grant is the author of Give And Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success, a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller, as well as an organizational psychologist and a top-rated Wharton professor for seven consecutive years. He has also published Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World and Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy.

The Muse is a website that provides job seekers with education, resources and connections. The Muse shared this article from LearnVest, a leading site for personal finance.

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