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Avoid being a pushover: three steps to success

Be a giver at work, but don’t be a pushover: LSCA vice president Indy Agnihotri sets out how to spot fakers and takers and ensure you are a door opener, not a door mat.

Indy Agnihotri

March 2020

Sometimes being a giver has its consequences, mostly good ones. However, there are occasional bad ones. As a giver, people say we are “too generous”. Why help if takers just take from us all the time? Be more selfish some would say.

However, givers want to help each other with no holdbacks. So, what is the right thing to do, then?

The book “Give and take”, by Adam Grant, talks from the perspective of employees whose goals are to climb up the ladder to their success and the struggles they face to achieve that. Being too trusting, too empathetic and too timid in life and work does not always benefit a giver. They are weaknesses that can stop them being successful.

How can we prevent this before it is too late?

Step 1: Don’t be too trusting

Protect yourself. Not all agreeable and “nice” people are givers, in the same way not all disagreeable/cold people are takers. Recognise that “nice” takers are fakers. To be successful, therefore know the differences between appearances and motives. If you fail… you become the doormat.

Step 2: Don’t be too Empathetic

Givers tend to show concern for others, imagining their distress. We become vulnerable and we give away too much value. To trade off time for the benefit for others is not always good. We sacrifice our own. So, what should givers do?

Generous tit for tat theory: “Never forget a good turn but occasionally forgive a bad turn”. We should start out trusting, but if they appear to be fakers, adjust your style to match theirs. Get inside their head not in their heart.

Step 3: Be assertive: overstep your bounds

Want to negotiate your salary but can’t do it? Use this approach: imagine that you are representing your family or your closest friend, wouldn’t you want them to have the right and fair amount? Set the goals high and stick to them.

Using these 3 steps, givers are not giving away too much value, they CREATE value.

So, look for opportunities to benefit others AND yourselves.

As givers, continue to give, but act efficiently.

Make a list on reasons why you should say no, and another list on how to create value. Share your workload and ask yourself who else can help, other than yourself? Invest in those that could have greater influence. Think of win-win solutions.

You bought the pie and shared some with others, but leave some pie for yourself too.

Don’t be the doormat, be the door opener.

Indy Agnihotri is Vice President of the London Society of Chartered Accountants and business coach consultant, strategic finance director and trainer. Contact Indy.

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