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Feb 23, 2022·edited Feb 23, 2022Liked by Adam Mastroianni

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.

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Haha yes, self-satisfied and Giver often go together (speaking as one myself)

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Nice Doorknob! ☺️ Love the article!

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Aug 21, 2022Liked by Adam Mastroianni

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!

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Aug 21, 2022Liked by Adam Mastroianni

Love this! Not all taking is selfish. Not all giving is generous.

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Mar 31, 2022Liked by Adam Mastroianni

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".

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Aug 22, 2022Liked by Adam Mastroianni

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.

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Thanks, Dan! I appreciate you being here, and I wish you a speedy recovery from introversion.

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Aug 22, 2022Liked by Adam Mastroianni

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.

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Aw man, that sucks! Hope you figure out whatever it is, or find another friend who opens more doors.

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Aug 21, 2022Liked by Adam Mastroianni

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?

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Good questions! My guess is that new stuff is good when either a) it's really entertaining, or b) the other person can somehow participate. Like I recently heard a great story from a friend about getting trapped by a blockade on a road in Colombia. I was happy just to listen and react. And I think most people are at least reasonably amused when I tell them I've done ~130 escape rooms and give a few highlights. But I should move on after a few minutes unless it's clear they've got a way in.

There's a bit of relevant research by a friend of mine: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/53051037e4b0b111f0059c31/t/5921c4b23a04117342c62224/1495385268344/Novelty+Penalty.pdf. Basically, people thought that others wanted to hear about something new, but actually people preferred hearing about something they already knew. So *some* new stuff is good, but we probably overestimate how entertaining it will be.

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Aug 23, 2022Liked by Adam Mastroianni

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.

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It’s hard to say, but I wonder if it’s being in charge that turns people into takers. I naturally ask a lot more when I’m talking to someone higher in the hierarchy than me and tell a lot more when I’m talking to someone lower in the hierarchy. Some of that is a natural consequence of who has more information, but it easily spills over into the rest of the relationship.

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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?

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I wrote about this idea a few years back and used the terms "Interviewer" and "Volunteer" (because you volunteer to do the next bit of the conversation, kind of thing)

Before that I was using the terms "Asker" and "Offerer"

If either of those are helpful?

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I found the article to be rather interesting as well, but was also hung up on that part. I even ended up writing down "givers invite and question, takers declare and offer" on the notepad in front of me while I finished reading because it seemed contradictory in my head. Your pointing out of the theater world application helps me make a little more sense of it though.

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Aug 21, 2022Liked by Adam Mastroianni

Are you familiar with the book The Most Human Human? There is a chapter about conversational "rock-climbing holds" – a very similar metaphor!

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I hadn't heard of it, thanks for the rec!

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Aug 23, 2022Liked by Adam Mastroianni

Doorknobs it is. Thanks for the fresh perspective. Well done and funny!!

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Aug 21, 2022Liked by Adam Mastroianni

As a taker, this seems like a really useful set of concepts!

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Aug 23, 2022Liked by Adam Mastroianni

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.

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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.

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I've been thinking about this topic recently. I recently noticed that I am a taker and made a concerted effort to be more of a giver. But I really did not find that it improved conversation. The best conversations in my mind are of the take-take variety. When I make a statement, I expect my conversation partner to riff off it, and I likewise endeavor to riff off whatever my conversation partner puts forth. I'm not trying to monopolize the conversation. I'm trying to energize it. The conventional wisdom of "people love talking about themselves, so you should just ask them questions" I think is bullshit. Or "giver propaganda" as you say. I hate being asked personal questions. I like responding to other people's short stories with my own related short stories and exploring the themes that arise. I like responding to other people's ideas with related ideas, and I expect my partners to do the same. When it doesn't work it, I no longer blame myself for not being more of a giver. I was inviting exploration and my invitation was not accepted. Invitations do not need to take the form of a question. While I should examine the quality of my invitations (doorknobs), I don't need to always blame myself and feel bad when my partner fails to push the door open. Sometimes, but not always.

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One possibility is that your conversation partner has no interest in the topic. But if you change topics 3 times and still get no response then, yeah, maybe your partner's just a dud, or not in the mood to talk.

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Sep 21, 2022Liked by Adam Mastroianni

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

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