Or "Spiderman Is My Boyfriend"
Thank you for this article. As a self-satisfied Giver in most social situations, this made me consider the other perspective for the first time.
Quick and fun read on a phenomenon I've never quite been able to pin down! I loved some of the prose. Sentences like "there’s nothing better than hopping on the back of a conversational motorcycle, wrapping your arms around your partner’s waist, and holding on for dear life while they rocket you to somewhere new." are so fun!
Love this! Not all taking is selfish. Not all giving is generous.
Meeting a polite taker is like finding a dancing unicorn. It seems my "giving" introverted life is aswarm with takers that have risen to outright "pillagers". Trying to get a word in with a group of such pillagers is like trying to board bullet trains that are not actually stopping at any station for passengers. By the time I force my way on to the conversation express, my offering about Budapest is "so ten minutes ago".
Wonderful "take." The comments - the giving and taking in response - were useful too. I'm going to have to read it again to get a better handle on doorknobs and affordances.
I enjoyed the conceptual 2x2 that you set up: givers and givers are good, and takers and takers are good, but givers meeting takers can be problematic. (Hence the funny and insightful comment on the taker unicorn!)
It's rare that you can find someone with the self-awareness to switch conversational personas with the goal of creating a successful interaction. As a recovering introvert, that's my goal now. (And being less self-satisfied with my mindless "ask more questions" method.)
Also hitting the subscribe button on your Substack. Good for Tyler Cowen for linking to you - I hope you get a shitload of new fans.
A friend of mine has started to become a conversational door slammer. The slamming takes several forms: insistence on accuracy where inaccuracy is of no consequence, objection to anything that smacks of exaggeration, and being dismissive of open wondering about something.
It's as if I have been assigned a personal fact checker. Conversations increasingly dwindle as I walk on eggshells. If I nod and agree and ask probing question it goes okay but is boring as hell. She may be carrying some resentment about something but I just don't give a damn anymore.
Sounds like a Taker propaganda to me!
Exhilarating article. Made me realize my fallacies as a Giver. The part about egocentrism made me think, when is it not egocentrism to talk about one's captivating escape room addiction? Are affordances more successful when confined to mutual interests, common grounds? or how intimate is good intimate and can catapult the conversation forward rather than make it a one sided awkward bombardment?
I've always thought of people as givers or takers, but somehow your post has made me realize we of course are both at times, in different ways, and perhaps the best thing is to be aware, and try to be both a giver and a taker as it fits - mostly awareness of the other person in front of you I'd say is what's important, and not ignorning them or yourself. It takes self awareness, and boldness to truly find the balance, but I'd say if you had to choose to be a giver or a taker (I'm definitely a giver), I think takers are quite often leaders, and direct givers because of the docile, agreeing attitude most of the time. What we need is takers in action, with the heart of a giver.
Are you familiar with the book The Most Human Human? There is a chapter about conversational "rock-climbing holds" – a very similar metaphor!
Doorknobs it is. Thanks for the fresh perspective. Well done and funny!!
As a taker, this seems like a really useful set of concepts!
Great article. I'm sending this to my wife, and my brother-n-law. I think I'm different towards different people, and to him I wonder if I just expect him to fill up the conversation. Kinda feel bad, but now i'll work on it.
Interesting article, but I feel like the terminology of giver and taker doesn't translate very well to the conversation realm... I guess it makes sense in the theater world where one person is "taking" vs "giving up" the spotlight, but it seems like in a conversation where the giver is the one asking questions and the taker is the one doing most of the talking that the term is confusing, I guess mainly because the taker is also "giving out" a lot of information about themselves, "giving" their energy to the conversation, whereas the giver is "taking in" what the taker is saying?
This was of some comfort to me as someone who is sometimes embarassed to find themselves taking, even when I am receiving signals that my taking is working just fine.
Loved this article, got me some insights into how to have better conversations. I used to not understand why sometimes I have good coversations and sometimes I'm just stuck, which stresses me out when I compare myself to my ideal image of how a "conversational wizard" might have done better. Definitely would try to practice more this "take-and-take" mindset
Wonderfully written article, Adam!