According to Adam Grant, author of "Give and Take" and a professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, there are three kinds of people. There are the takers, those who are always trying to get as much as possible from others. There are the matchers, those who, if they did you a favor, would expect one back (and vice versa). And then there are the givers -- those who go out of their way to support and help you, with no strings attached.
If you're being honest with yourself, which one are you? And how does being a giver -- or a taker, or a matcher -- affect success?
Grant shared the answer during his talk at Thrive, The Huffington Post's second Third Metric conference on redefining success beyond the two metrics of money and power.
Turns out, the people who seem to be the least successful in life -- the least productive engineers, the medical students with the poorest grades, the salespeople with the lowest revenue -- are the givers. Takers aren't the best performers, either, thanks to matchers.
"If you are a matcher, you believe that what goes around, comes around," Grant said in his talk. If you're a matcher, "there's nothing you hate more than seeing a taker take and get away with it. That's why matchers in the room, you feel like it's your mission in life, if you encounter a taker, to just punish the hell out of that person."
So does that make matchers the highest performers?
Surprisingly, no, Grant says. Even though givers are the worst performers, they are also the best performers.
"Givers are overrepresented at both extremes," Grant said. "It can either sink your career, or it can accelerate it."
So how do you become a giver who is successful, instead of a giver who just can't perform as well as everyone else? Grant said the first step is to spot the takers in your midst -- and not to be fooled by agreeableness (takers can be agreeable too!).
Another tip is to specialize in what are called "five-minute favors": things that bring high value to other people's lives, but at a relatively low cost.
The philosophy is, "I'm going to microloan my time and my skills to help others without sacrificing myself," Grant explained.
The third step is to not restrict your interactions to just givers.
"A lot of givers will say, 'I'm so afraid of takers, so I'll just focus on people who are generous like me,'" Grant said. But really, matchers are the people who keep score and want to settle favors by paying it forward.
"Givers have a reservoir of good will," Grant added. "If you only help givers, you will never get those benefits from matchers."