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Givers
Dec 26, 2013 General Nonsense |
Some people seem to be born givers. They get their pleasure by absorbing happiness from the people they please. Let's call it reflected happiness as opposed to direct.

Humans are all a bit different at birth, and presumably we are wired to get different levels of pleasure from this sort of reflected happiness. Sociopaths and other selfish people literally feel no pleasure from helping others. Natural givers, on the other hand, are willing to make great sacrifices for others because it feels so good to do so.

I'm not being judgmental. I'm just noting that people are wired for different rewards. And much of that is probably genetic.

So today, in this season of giving, I wonder if there are other traits that givers share. Specifically, I wonder if the bodies and minds of givers are extra-sensitive to the thoughts and emotions of others.

I think most of you know whether you are givers or takers. If you're a giver, do you also have some of the following characteristics?
  1. Are you shy?
  2. Do you dislike receiving gifts?
  3. Are you easily influenced by the taste preferences of others? (music, style, etc.)
  4. Do you avoid sad movies and books?
  5. Do you hate using a restroom if others are near?
  6. Do you enjoy spending time alone because people exhaust you? (Introversion)
  7. Do you often enjoy pets more than most people?
  8. Do you choose careers that make people happy?
If you are a giver, how many of the things on the list apply to you?

 

 
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Dec 31, 2013
My friends and family consider me an almost pathological giver ... what seems normal and happy for me seems extravagant to them ... so here goes:

1. Are you shy? Definitely.

2. Do you dislike receiving gifts? Sort of. I'd rather go buy what I want, so it's hard to shop for me. And I do often feel a little noided out by gifts, especially when I'm not expecting it. But I do love getting gifts that show that the giver groks me.

3. Are you easily influenced by the taste preferences of others? (music, style, etc.) I have my own definite tastes and preferences, but I am something of a chameleon ... I bring out whichever side matches whomever I'm hanging with.

4. Do you avoid sad movies and books? Yes!

5. Do you hate using a restroom if others are near? I don't prefer it, but I don't hate it.

6. Do you enjoy spending time alone because people exhaust you? (Introversion) YES!!!

7. Do you often enjoy pets more than most people? Only clean, soft fuzzy ones that don't shed or make horrible messes. But yes.

8. Do you choose careers that make people happy? I chose a career that I felt would benefit society and improve things for everyone (engineering ... I love solving problems).
 
 
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 31, 2013
1,2,4 - check.
3 - Definitely not. I even had this checked in a test I took part in without knowing it as a student.
5 - a bit.
6 - I do like to spend time alone but I have no idea whether this is for the reason you state. Could equally well be because then I don't always have to think about what to say or feign understanding about other peoples different opinions.

7 - No, I don't particular enjoy pets. I like the cat of a friend but that's all. In general I prefer animals wild and in their natural environment. Or on the plate.

8 - Software Developer. Does that count?
 
 
Dec 30, 2013
I think I'm a giver (more so than not)

1. shy around strangers/people I've just met
2. increasingly so as we've become more financially secure
3. definitely not - I like what I like & am ambivalent to other's tastes (if they agree great, if not so what?)
4. yes, but it's more about negative emotionally intensity than sadness...
5. never really had this problem...
6. good lord yes! this is the REAL litmus test for intro vs extroversion - how do you recharge?
7. my cat is the only thing in my life that's 100% a stress reducer - she's the ultimate giver!
8. I've generally worked for companies whose services make people happy but my job per se is inherently technical so it's mostly self-satisfaction from problem solving.
 
 
Dec 30, 2013
I'm definitely a giver.
1. Shy? I'd say introverted by nature, but perfectly capable of being social.
2. Dislike Receiving? Yes, but I'm "wealthy enough" and my tastes are overly specific. I hate to see people waste an effort. I don't really want things.
3. Easily Influenced? No. But I kinda "sorta like everything" to start with.
4. Avoid sad stories? Not sure... I'm not really into "drama" regardless of whether it's happy or sad. I wouldn't really describe action, fantasy, scifi, or horror as "sad."
5. Restroom anxiety? No.
6. Introversion? Yes.
7. Enjoy Pets? Yes.
8. Careers? Meh. Programming -- and I often volunteer to do work that other people don't want to do and suck at.
 
 
Dec 30, 2013
I think I am a giver, I do like making people happy.

Are you shy? No.
Do you dislike receiving gifts? No, I usually enjoy it if the person has put thought into it.
Are you easily influenced by the taste preferences of others? (music, style, etc.) YES, definitely.
Do you avoid sad movies and books? Yes, and horror movies and the news when bad things are happening that I can't do anything about.
Do you hate using a restroom if others are near? No.
Do you enjoy spending time alone because people exhaust you? (Introversion) YES, definitely.
Do you often enjoy pets more than most people? No.
Do you choose careers that make people happy? Yes.
 
 
Dec 30, 2013
I am not a giver (although I'm not a taker either).

Are you shy? Not at all
Do you dislike receiving gifts? Yes. This is hard to explain to people.
Are you easily influenced by the taste preferences of others? (music, style, etc.) Not at all.
Do you avoid sad movies and books? Yes. I especially avoid stories about injustice that are in a realistic setting - I get as angry as if it was real.
Do you hate using a restroom if others are near? Doesn't affect me.
Do you enjoy spending time alone because people exhaust you? (Introversion) Yes. That is such a valid way of putting it. Everyone always assumes this is about liking or not liking people, but even people I really enjoy spending time with exhaust me.
Do you often enjoy pets more than most people? Yes. I never resent buying toys and treats for my pets.
Do you choose careers that make people happy? No. I'm in advertising, so understanding and manipulating people is a key skill, but I am well aware there is little (that can be sold) that will make anyone happy. I enjoy making clients happy, but I am often required to make/justify decisions on the client's behalf that are effective, but not in fact the client's personal choice.
 
 
Dec 29, 2013
After reading other responses for the last question, I think I misunderstood it.

Yes, I believe what I do for my career does make people happy.
 
 
Dec 29, 2013
I'm a giver, but only with a few closest to me. I like giving to people I know because I like the challenge of finding creative gifts that fit who they are.

Are you shy? Somewhat.
Do you dislike receiving gifts? No
Are you easily influenced by the taste preferences of others? (music, style, etc.) No
Do you avoid sad movies and books? No
Do you hate using a restroom if others are near? Yes
Do you enjoy spending time alone because people exhaust you? (Introversion) Yes.
Do you often enjoy pets more than most people? Yes.
Do you choose careers that make people happy? No. I chose a career that was interesting to me.
 
 
Dec 29, 2013
Definitely a giver.
Are you shy? Not often.
Do you dislike receiving gifts? On the contrary, I love it.
Are you easily influenced by the taste preferences of others? (music, style, etc.) Rarely any more.
Do you avoid sad movies and books? No.
Do you hate using a restroom if others are near? Yes.
Do you enjoy spending time alone because people exhaust you? Occasionally I like to be alone.
Do you often enjoy pets more than most people? Yes
Do you choose careers that make people happy? No
If you are a giver, how many of the things on the list apply to you? I make that 3.

 
 
Dec 28, 2013
Giver.

Are you shy?
Yes, but I've developed coping skills so that I think people that don't know me well wouldn't be able to tell.

Do you dislike receiving gifts?
No, maybe I'm not extremely shy.

Are you easily influenced by the taste preferences of others? (music, style, etc.)
Yes, when it comes to opinions during debates. I am able to see both sides being argued, and am not always able to form my own opinion.

Do you avoid sad movies and books?
Yes.

Do you hate using a restroom if others are near?
Absolutely YES!

Do you enjoy spending time alone because people exhaust you? (Introversion)
Again, absolutely YES!

Do you often enjoy pets more than most people?
No, probably less.

Do you choose careers that make people happy?
No, I'm an architect. I don't think architects make anyone happy. Except I do like to make my co-workers happy.
 
 
Dec 28, 2013
I'm a giver. I get great joy from giving people presents that they'll love.
1) Yes
2) No
3)Sometimes
4) Yes and scary films
5)No
6)Yes
7)No
8) Yes

Also I have some ability to cold read, so I would say that this leads me to be extra sensitive to other peoples feelings.
The problem I have found is that some people take advantage of my good nature. I have to be careful of that.
 
 
Dec 27, 2013
All of them AND I'm an engineer so a sociopath as well. Talk about mixed up. I am also a member of Rotary so my giving gets anonymised in all the stuff that goes on in the group.
 
 
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 27, 2013

I actually feel a bit drained when I give to strangers (and deeply resentful if I am forced to, such as through taxation). But I do get pleasure from helping the people and organizations that I enjoy in my life. For example, I donate to the hospital that once perfomed an operation on me that has greatly improved my quality of life. I don't mind helping out a friend with a project, or even helping them move (at least if they're the sort of person who is willing to help me next time I move, haha). So am I a giver or a sociopath?

As far as the questions:

(1) Not shy, but hate big groups;
(2) Depends on the gift -- I feel a bit uncomfortable if I feel it is overly generous, especially if I didn't do anything equal for the person;
(3) Others' preferences have literally no bearing on me... actually, if something is popular, I often don't see what is so special;
(4) I neither avoid nor seek out sad movies/books, but they usually can make me feel sad, especially if it's something tragic about someone's family/loved ones;
(5) I hate using urinals with a passion, and refuse to use them without a privacy panel in all but the most dire of emergencies -- and I will never use the little tiny ones or troughs no matter what;
(6) I don't mind seeing people, but I always need some "hobby time" alone AFTER I've spent time with people;
(7) I don't much care for pets;
(8) I like work that gives me mental stimulation. It's nice when it helps someone, but it isn't required.
 
 
Dec 27, 2013
With respect to the nature vs nurture argument. I would generalise by saying that I am a giver and my husband is not. We have a child who is young but I would say by nature is not so much a giver (probably a bit early to tell) but by my nurture does exhibit giving qualities. From what I can see I think there is a nature component. I am not sure whether my giving comes from nature or nurture. As Scott says, I guess a combination of both.
 
 
Dec 27, 2013
1) Yes. 4-8) Yes

I take issue with the notion this is primarily genetic. 80% of human traits are and I'd normally be inclined to agree with the genetic argument - but not this. There probably are genetic cases but it's not the majority. People are fairly adaptable and their values tend to reflect the values of the culture they were born into.

I am animal lover and you can see this very easily in dogs. Meanness can certainly be trained into a dog but more often a dog will be mean because it's been mistreated. Even breeds that have a predisposition for mean behavior generally have to be "socialized" to do that.

Fwiw I believe our society is becoming more narcissistic and self centered. Part of that is the decline of traditional values. Part of it is technology, particularly social media, which give the illusion that one is the center of the universe.
 
 
Dec 27, 2013
I think there are additional reasons for givers.

Some are driven by fear of God, karma or some other mechanism that will ultimately reward or punish their conduct. "A Christmas Carol" too often comes across as a story of a man who embraces Christmas to prevent his own death. Dickens' actual book is far more nuanced, more a story of a man rediscovering his humanity than a sonofaB scared straight. But a lot of altruistic behavior may simply be fear based.

Some may be "repairing" their own pasts. An adult who had an impoverished childhood may take pleasure in buying and giving expensive toys, whether he/she experiences the recipients' joy or not. Or a man who once slept in alleys may be especially generous to a shelter he wishes were available in those days. This might also be framed as simple identification: A giver who emphasizes with a specific need or want may be more inclined to give. The grownup who coveted an electric train is going to be more receptive if a child asks for that instead of something the adult never wanted.

Others, in a form of enlightened self-interest, may give to advance outcomes they personally need or desire ("Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker" -- Ogden Nash's fabled benefit analysis). The desired outcome may not be instant or direct: A local business invests in civic betterment not just for the PR, but with the serious belief that a healthier community provides a more robust customer base. Companies that donate products to classrooms have at least some hope students will develop brand preference, or at least a long-term appetite for the product category. On a smaller scale, young people may be generous to older folks with assets to bequeath; old people might be nicer to the relatives they anticipate as being caregivers or guardians.

A slight variant is the giver who evangelizes his personal joys. My personal gift giving tends to highlight books and movies I love myself; a philanthropic opera lover may invest heavily not only in making opera available, but in teaching kids to appreciate it.
 
 
Dec 27, 2013
Most people give gifts on occassions when it has been culturally ingrained to give/accept gifts.

Many people give gifts as a sort of upmanship. If you have earlier given me a gift worth x, I have to make sure to give you a gift worth x on a similar occassion.

Gift giving is not as innocent an activity as it sounds.

And no, I'm not a giver.

1. I am not an extrovert though no longer young enough to be shy.

2. Yes, I dislike receiving gifts because
a) the item is generally not anything that I particularly need at the time.
b) I have to remember to return a gift of similar value to the giver at an appropriate occassion. Since I have a relatively poor memory, this causes problems at times.
c) I have to go out and search and buy the gift, which is a painful chore to me.
d) I am naturally slightly stingy, so the very idea of two people spending money buying items that neither one of them truly needs hurts a very core part of me.

3. I am not at all influenced by the taste preferences of others.

4. Yes, I avoid sad movies because somehow, I cry easily. I shed a few tears even in 'The Lion King' - weird! So, my tears mean that I have enjoyed watching a good emotionally satisfying movie.

5. Yes, I avoid using the restroom if others are near.

6. Yes, I need lot of alone time.

7. No, have no particular liking for pets.

8. I chose a career that had the greatest potential of making me the most money.

So, Mr Sigmund Adams, what do you make of this? Apart from the fact that I am an a$$___le.
 
 
Dec 27, 2013
Giver- Yes
Yes- Are you shy?
Yes- Do you dislike receiving gifts?
No. Not at all. - Are you easily influenced by the taste preferences of others? (music, style, etc.)
No- Do you avoid sad movies and books?
No- Do you hate using a restroom if others are near?
Yes- Do you enjoy spending time alone because people exhaust you? (Introversion)
No- Do you often enjoy pets more than most people?
No- Do you choose careers that make people happy?
 
 
Dec 26, 2013
I'm definitely a giver, so here are my answers. I said yes to 3/8.

1) No, I'm not even slightly shy. I have no shame whatsoever. I adjust myself to my audience as much as I can, but I do not embarrass easily.

2) Yes. I dislike gifts (with a few notable exceptions). I haven't celebrated my birthday since I was 18 (over a decade).

3) No. I'm not easily influenced. I'm willing to try almost anything and I am interested in the tastes of others, but I know when I like something. For example, I can sit for hours listening to minimal techno music while someone talks about why every note matters, thoroughly enjoy the experience, and never want to listen to minimal techno music again in my life (true story).

4) Yes. Feeling sad is feeling bad. There's enough crap in real life.

5) No. When nature calls, I go.

6) No. I occasionally like time to myself, but I am definitely extroverted and generally I would rather be around people.

7) No. I love pets and I love people, although some animals are !$%*!$%* (humans included).

8) Yes, most of my jobs have had a big or small element of making others happy.
 
 
Dec 26, 2013
I'm trying to remember back to college psych to figure out what disorder this list comes from, can't wait for the follow-up post...
 
 
 
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