There are three types of workers and the least common is usually the most successful: which one are you?

What type of employee are you? Photo: Getty Images.

Without a doubt, the way you interact in your work environment is decisive for professional success. Psychologists have long studied the so-called “reciprocity style” and have determined which types of employees are typically the most productive and effective.

In his book Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success, organizational psychologist and Wharton professor Adam Grant identified three key styles of reciprocity:

the receivers

the equalizers


Given these names, it’s not too difficult to guess which one is the most coveted by employers.

But let’s go by steps.

The characteristics of each profile

Receivers, according to Grant, see the world as a competitive race. They assume that no one else will take care of them and therefore always prioritize their own interests. They may choose to help others strategically, but only when they get more benefits than costs.

Instead, equalizers work on an “eye for an eye” level. When someone does them a favor, they return it in equal measure, and when they help someone, they expect the same in return.

But donors focus on others more than themselves. They pay close attention to what people need from them, be it time, ideas, or mentorship. These types of employees are rather a rarity in the workplace, according to Grant, and in any field, you will find them near the peak of their professional careers. They tend to become more efficient engineers or higher-earning salespeople than receivers and equalizers.

In addition, they have learned to get help when they need it and are adept at both receiving and giving. “Successful donors are just as ambitious as receivers and equalizers,” Grant writes in his book. “They just have a different way of pursuing their goals.”

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Too generous donors

However, another study found a significant group of donors clustered at the opposite extreme. They were the least productive workers, the losers, at least in the eyes of their peers.

According to Grant, these hapless donors found it uncomfortable to ask for favors or help. They gave and gave until the well ran dry. In other words, they were “too good.”

Bill Sanders, a labor and negotiation expert and CEO of Mobus Creative Negotiating, a corporate training and consulting firm, recalls in an article for CNBC the case of a young travel agent who was bright and hard-working, but always fell short on your sales figures.

The reason? He was compulsively generous with prospects, giving them free sneaky advice (which they took to book online, on their own, rather than using his services). As a result, both the agent and his agency suffered.

The key to being a donor … and not dying trying

Therefore, to be a successful donor, you must be a good negotiator. Haggling requires the gift of your time and energy to get through the process and stay focused on long-term goals.

On the contrary, indiscriminate donations or aid can be harmful, even between strategic partners.

Considering good negotiation or agreement-making techniques can help you become a successful donor.

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