As summer and vacation time is coming to an end and many of us are back at work again, why don’t we ask ourselves “who am I”? Am I a giver, a taker or maybe a matcher? Would I like to modify my behavior, and if so, in what direction?
Does generosity make you happy?
Have you ever wondered why bother helping others?
Several studies (1, 2, 3) have shown that generosity increases people’s happiness levels, and last year a study showed that even a pledge to be generous towards others affected the brain and increased happiness. Interestingly enough, happiness did not increase proportionally to the amount spent on others; even a small act of generosity was enough to increase the giver’s happiness.
Generosity at work
However, it is not always easy to be a giver. The organizational psychologist Adam Grant studied forces behind success at work and he compared the performance of givers (who tend to ask “what can I do for you?”), takers (who tend to ask “what can you do for me?”) and matchers (who match others behavior “quid pro quo”). He found that givers, although very valuable for the organization, easily burn themselves out. As a giver, it is easy to fall into the trap of spending all energy on helping others and be left with none for yourself, which can result in poor performance. Surprisingly, the givers are also the top performers in each organization.
So if generosity increases our happiness levels, and givers can be top performers at work, but often end up burning out, how can we create a culture where more givers get to excel?