Scaleup Blog

Scaleup Blog

Drawing boundaries


Giving and taking

“Givers, learn your limits because Takers don’t have any.”

When I read this quote some time ago, I instantly thought to myself: “Wow, this sentence brilliantly summarizes the need for healthy assertiveness and personal boundaries in life.”

Then in hindsight, I realized how much this simple sentence says about the more general relationship between Givers and Takers.

If I put myself in the shoes of a strong Giver who gives without limits, I:

  • Have high empathy for others and their needs
  • Probably gain a number of personal or social benefits associated with giving (i.e., self-esteem, feeling useful, reciprocity or the thankfulness of others)
  • Can easily drain my personal resources by giving away too much
  • Naturally attract those who want to take without limits

In contrast, if I put myself in the shoes of a strong Taker who takes without limits, I:

  • Most probably have low consideration or empathy for others and their needs
  • Am strongly feeling my own needs and I naturally reach out to the world to satisfy them
  • Take for as long as something or someone doesn’t stop me from taking
  • Am naturally attracted to those who want to give without limits

Notice that there is a perfect two-way relationship here.

Takers take while ever they are allowed to do so. Givers give as long as they have the resources and are not drained too much.

However, what should a Giver who IS drained do to stop giving without limits?

Healthy relationship between giving and taking

The answer is simple – to change the dynamics of this relationship, Givers can get inspired by Takers and their ways of being. This can help Givers learn to:

  • Be more in sync with their own needs
  • Take greater care of their resources and learn how to protect them
  • Verify others more carefully before deciding on how much to invest in the relationship
  • Not to take immediate responsibility for someone else’s unfulfilled needs or frustration

These skills can help Givers increase their assertiveness and, consequently:

  • Replace empathy with compassion. Learn to avoid stepping in someone else’s shoes so much that they forget about their needs and well-being
  • Learn to say no and draw healthy boundaries that naturally stop Takers from taking too much
  • Restore the personal energy and resources drained by exploitative relationships

I am curious about your experiences regarding the relationship between giving and taking. How do you get the balance right between these two?

Maciej Szturmowicz

Scaleup Founder, Coach, Facilitator