The Power of Exclusion

When is the right time to axe a member of your group?

We all know people who are takers. Takers are self-serving: They love to get more than they give, and use others for personal gain. Luckily, most people don’t approach their interactions this way. After studying these dynamics for a decade, it turns out that the vast majority of people operate like matchers, striving to keep an even balance of giving and receiving. Matchers follow the norm of reciprocity, trading favors quid pro quo.

For some of us, our focus isn’t on taking or matching, but on giving. I’m not necessarily talking about philanthropy or volunteering—I mean being the kind of person who enjoys helping others and often does it without any strings attached. If you’re a giver, you go out of your way to share knowledge, make introductions, offer advice, or provide mentoring without expecting anything in return.

We want to be surrounded by givers. By contributing generously, givers create more supportive relationships, more cohesive groups, and more innovative, reliable, and productive organizations.

If you want a community of givers, you should invite givers to join your community. However, research consistently demonstrates that the negative impact of one taker on a group exceeds the positive impact of one giver. It’s easy for one bad apple to spoil the bunch, but much more difficult for one good egg to make a dozen. In the presence of takers, people become paranoid and self-protective, suppressing their giving instincts in favor of playing it safe by matching or taking.

Rather than stacking the deck with givers, it’s more important to focus on screening out takers. One signal of taking is the tendency to claim personal credit for collective accomplishments while blaming others for failures and mistakes. Another is kissing up and kicking down: When dealing with powerful people, takers tend to be good fakers. They’re careful to impress superiors by creating an aura of generosity, but they let their guard down when dealing with peers and subordinates.

If you can spot these signals and weed the takers out of your group, you’ll have a community of givers and matchers. With takers out of the picture, givers are comfortable acting generously. Since matchers subscribe to the norm of reciprocity, they tend to follow suit and operate like givers too.

To fuel and sustain this giving dynamic, it’s critical to encourage people to ask for help. In many situations, givers are stymied by a lack of information about who could benefit from their help, and how. Research suggests that up to 90 percent of all giving and helping that occurs in organizations starts with a request. Yet many people hesitate to make those requests—they’re afraid of appearing vulnerable, incompetent, helpless, or dependent. If they hold back on asking, they deprive others of the chance to contribute.

Communities of givers depend on mechanisms for supporting help-seeking. If you want to organize helping from the top down, check out the Dream On program at Appletree Answers, a call center where employees are invited to submit dreams—like bringing a sick husband to meet his favorite athletes or taking a daughter backstage at the circus—and a committee works to grant them. If you’d rather mobilize grassroots helping, one powerful practice is the Reciprocity RingTM, where you invite members of a group to make a request for something they need or want but cannot get on their own, and challenge the rest of the group to use their knowledge and networks to make it happen.

Once you have a group of givers and matchers seeking and giving help, the final step is to show people the impact of their contributions. Givers burn out when they’re left in the dark about how their actions are helping others. In experiments with university fundraisers, for example, the givers struggled until they met a single scholarship recipient who benefited from the money they had raised. Then, their weekly effort spiked by more than 141 percent and their weekly revenue climbed by more than 400 percent. When we can see the impact of our actions, giving becomes less exhausting and more energizing.

Many people aspire to make a difference, but believe they need to achieve success before giving back. By rejecting this assumption and building a community of people who give first, it’s possible to make everyone in the group better off.

Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

Millions of people in over 150 countries across the globe marched for lawmakers and corporations to take action to help stop climate change on Friday, September 20.

The Climate Strikes were organized by children around the world as an extension of the of the "Fridays for Future" campaign. Students have been walking out of classrooms on Fridays to speak out about political inaction surrounding the climate crisis.

"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

There's no doubt the visual images from the marches send a powerful message to those on the ground but especially those watching from around the world. GOOD's own Gabriel Reilich was on the scene for the largest of the Climate Strikes. Here are 18 of the best signs from the Climate Strike march in New York City.

Keep Reading Show less

September 20th marks the beginning of a pivotal push for the future of our planet. The Global Climate Strike will set the stage for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where more than 60 nations are expected to build upon their commitment to 2015's Paris Agreement for combating climate change.

Millions of people are expected to take part in an estimated 4,000 events across 130 countries.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Apple

When the iPhone 11 debuted on September 10, it was met with less enthusiasm than the usual iPhone release. A lot of techies are holding off purchasing the latest gadget until Apple releases a phone with 5G technology.

Major US phone carriers have yet to build out the infrastructure necessary to provide a consistent 5G experience, so Apple didn't feel it necessary to integrate the technology into its latest iPhone.

A dramatic new feature on the iPhone 11 Pro is its three camera lenses. The three lenses give users the the original wide, plus ultrawide and telephoto options.

Keep Reading Show less
via I love butter / Flickr

We often dismiss our dreams as nonsensical dispatches from the mind while we're deep asleep. But recent research proves that our dreams can definitely affect our waking lives.

People often dream about their significant others and studies show it actually affects how we behave towads them the next day.

"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

Keep Reading Show less