Stephanie Fox – We all know that working is doing far more than just earning a living. It is being happy in what we do and forming relationships, helping and interacting successfully with others. A law job requires your commitment, but also your ienjoyment of what you are doing.
To enjoy your job is to enjoy life – and surely that is a key driver for any of us.
Any job – law job or not – is about having a relationship. And the key towards a successful relationship is giving rather than what you can take.
None of us like ‘takers’ who will only focus on what is in it for them. Relationships are never a one-way-street and yet in legal careers you will (regrettably) encounter many who are on their legal career path and not minding who they step on to achieve their partnership, senior associateship or whatever.
As the COVID pandemic has taken its toll and changed the way many of us work – including the way lawyers operate – we must be more concerned than ever to ensure we are contributing in a meaningful way to the business or firm that employs us
In a romantic situation, the decision of whether you are a giver or taker is profound in terms of how your relationship might work out. (If you want to know, you can check it out here with a small test).
The 3 Types of Person
Researchers indicate that there are three types of people, beyond just ‘givers’ and ‘takers’ – there are also ‘matchers and to understand your own type you can look at their type:
Takers are self-focused and put their own interests ahead of others’ needs. They try to gain as much as possible from their interactions while contributing as little as they can in return.
Matchers like to preserve an equal balance of giving and taking. Their mindset is: “If you take from me, I’ll take from you. If you give to me, I’ll give to you.”
Givers are others-focused, and tend to provide support to others with no strings attached. They ask themselves, “How can I add value for this person? What can I contribute?”
Who Work Best?
‘Givers’ certainly do not outperform – or sometimes really perform at all. They are at a disadvantage – as lawyers as in most other professions or jobs – because they will ‘give’ to the detriment of their own careers.
Unless they give properly – that is, – with the right attitude and approach.
What do we mean by that.
Which is not to knock ‘giving’, but ‘takers’ are not the winners, either. But a giver has to do so in the right way.
By making random acts of kindness, for instance, you can build your network and your sense of meaningfulness that helps build your credibility within your network. There is a proven psychological boost you will obtain by behaving like this or by providing ‘chunks’ of giving behaviour in one day or at a particular time.
Similarly, by asking for assistance or help from a co-worker can provide the opportunity to give them the chance to feel meaningful, making them feel smart and helpful. And – incidentally – helping you too.
The ability to actually ask for help can be an act of ‘giving’ that is win/win.
You are matching your own needs with the opportunity for others to help. It helps create a useful opportunity to actually build relationships, create trust and elevate the usefulness and value of yourself and your co-worker.
Law firms are places that create often insufferable egos that can create fractured and difficult relationships. But being a ‘matcher’ who gives is to create value for your own law career in a way that truly adds value to yourself and the work you do.
Stephanie Fox is a careers writer and advisor who regularly contributes to publications on law job and general careers news.