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  • Writer's pictureDr. EL March

Are you a Giver or a Taker?

When do you know if you are one or the other? The Giver is the part of you that follows the rule: do whatever you can to make the other person happy and avoid anything that makes the other person unhappy, even if it makes you unhappy. It's the part of you that wants to make a difference in the lives of others, and it grows out of a basic instinct that we all share, a deep tank of love and concern for those around us.

The Taker is the part of you that follows the rule: do whatever you can to make yourself happy and avoid anything that makes yourself unhappy, even if it makes others unhappy. It's the part of you that wants the most out of life, and it grows out of your basic instinct for self-preservation.

In everyday life, our Givers and Takers usually solve problems together. They recognize our need to give and take simultaneously. For example, when we buy groceries, we give money and take groceries. We don't give more money than the grocer charges us and we don't take groceries without paying for them.

But in friendships, a strange thing happens to the way our Givers and Takers operate. They seem to work independently of each other. Either the Giver is in charge, and we give unconditionally to them, or the Taker is in charge where we take what we want from them without giving anything in return.

When the Giver is in charge, we are loving and considerate. But we tend to make personal sacrifices to see to it that they are happy and fulfilled, because our Takers are not there to defend our personal interests and our Givers do not care how we feel.

But when the Taker is in charge, we are rude, demanding and inconsiderate. All we seem to think about is ourselves, and what our friends can do to make us happy. We expect them to make sacrifices for us, because our Takers don't care how our friends feel.

It should be no surprise to you that it isn't the Giver that ruins friendships -- it's the Taker. But the Giver plays a very important role in creating the problem. It's the effort of the Giver to give the friend anything they want that sets up the Taker for its destructive acts. After you have been giving, giving, giving to them, and receiving little in return (because you haven't bargained for much), your Taker rises up to straighten out the situation. It sees the unfairness of it all, and steps in, to balance the books. But instead of coming to a more balanced arrangement, where you get something for what you give, the Taker just moves the Giver out of the picture altogether. It says, "I've been giving enough, now it's your turn to give."

This brings up a very important observation -- The Taker's instinctive strategy for getting what we need in friendship is to make demands, show disrespect and have an angry outburst.

So here are few “tell tales” to help you identify if you are a taker:

  • Do you only seem to contact friends when you want something and although you may ask, “how are you?”, you don’t really care or respond when they tell you something other than the typical “fine, how are you?” and turn the conversation back to you.

  • The conversation always turns back to you or whatever you want to talk about.

  • You are demanding and persistent in your persuasiveness to get what you want.

  • You don’t seem to really listen to anyone and your smile seems to stop at your eyes.

  • You don’t ask about them or what they want or need – at least not with any sincerity.

  • You are one way in public in a group setting and another in private or one-on-one.

  • You speak negatively about people who don’t do what you want or have questioned you on your actions.

  • You refer to yourself as an expert rather than let others refer to you as an expert.

  • You offer insincere or “over the top” compliments – flattery that’s almost always followed by requests.

  • You only want others’ opinion to confirm yours and you get miffed when, or if, they disagree or question you.

  • You always seem to want more, no matter what they say or do – and seem to look for validation at every turn.

  • You get bored in a party when the attention is not on you or other people are getting attention.

Most of these types of takers are known as “Emotional Manipulators”, and what makes them so hard to spot and to defend against is that they actually don’t think they are doing anything wrong or self-serving/centred. It’s as though they have a sense of entitlement to get their own way no matter what.

Being a taker is not a “selfish” act, but is completely out of self-centeredness. Completely different! Let’s be as good of a giver as taker and balance things out.

Be the Light!


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