4 Tips From Psychologists To Protect Yourself From Selfish People

4 Tips From Psychologists To Protect Yourself From Selfish People

We regularly encounter two types of people – the givers and the takers. The givers are the generous ones, while the takers are the toxic and selfish ones. Famous organisational psychologist and bestselling author Adam Grant defines takers in his famous Ted Talk as “people who are self-serving in their interactions”.. He points out that, for takers “it is all about what you can do for me”.

Beyond the simple definition, how do you identify a selfish person or a taker? Psychotherapist and author Diane Barth says there are two primary characteristics of selfishness:

– Being concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself.
– Having no regard for the needs or feelings of others.

If you are someone who doesn’t belong to the group of takers and identify yourself as a giver, then do remember that nice people often finish last.
“If you want to be a generous giver, you have to watch out for selfish takers,” says Adam Grant . And these takers can come in any form – from “the boss who dumps the grunt work on you and then steals the glory, the colleague who hogs the floor in the meeting, the customer who feels entitled to all of your time, to the new hire who eats your salad from the fridge, and then complains that he didn’t like the dressing.”

So, how do you protect yourself from, or deal successfully with selfish takers? Here are four tips.

1. Look For Bright Spots

Adam Grant says “most takers are not bad people”, in most cases “they’ve just become cynical after getting burnt one too many times or being taught that the corporate world is a dog-eat-dog place”. This is in line with why we often hear, ‘no one is born as a bad person, it is the circumstance that turns them so’.

If you are a believer of that assumption, then pay attention to the actions and behaviors of the takers. At some point, you will notice moments when they are less selfish. “The trick is to figure out what those bright spots have in common, so you can connect with their motivation”, adds Adam.

2. Give Reputational Feedback

Nobody likes being called names. Despite being selfish, arrogant or cruel, most of us like to believe that we are nice people with good qualities.

Few people want to look in the mirror and see a taker staring back at them. And even fewer want to be known as a taker. Writer Cheryl Strayed says, “We often become our kindest, most ethical selves only by seeing what it feels like to be a selfish jackass first.”

The strategy here is to directly let the other person know that they have a bad reputation. Make it clear directly and since no one wants to be branded a selfish person, they will take necessary actions to make sure that particular reputation doesn’t stick with them.

3. Understand their motivation

Psychoanalyst Diane Barth points out that we often make wrong assumptions about what motivates people. If you can get behind the behavior and discover what motivates them, you will have a better chance of responding in a way that might make it less powerful.

One of the interesting things about takers is that if you know their goals, their behavior is fairly predictable. If you can persuade them to see how being selfish jeopardizes their goals or interests, then you are giving them a reason to shift their behavior.

4. Be a Matcher

In his Ted Talk titled ‘Are you a giver or a taker?’, Adam Grant speaks about a third kind of personality apart from the giver and taker – the matcher. He says the result from his survey of over 30,000 people points to the fact that most of the people are matchers, the middle ground between a taker and a giver.

A matcher only gives in when he gets something in return . Similarly, a matcher is always open to be giving towards people from whom they have taken something. A favor returned for a favor received, quid-pro-quo, that is the tagline of a matcher.

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