The One Thing You Must Do To Grow Your Relational Capital

Recently, there has been some buzz in the business world around relationships. Specifically, the three types of relational people in...

Recently, there has been some buzz in the business world around relationships. Specifically, the three types of relational people in the world: Takers, Traders and Givers; which is loosely based on Adam Scott’s book Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success.

If you’re looking for a great overview of these types of people, check out Doug Ponder’s blog post.

In this article, I’m going to quote Doug’s blog post and make some comments that bring these categories into Five Capitals language. Specifically, in the realm of relational capital, we’ll talk about Withdrawals, Bargaining and Investments.


Takers: constantly withdrawing

In his blog post, Doug states that:

Takers are people who do what they want without consideration of others pretty much all the time. A taker is only out to help themselves, even if this means ignoring, using, or abusing other people along the way…. The reality is when people live like Takers, others get hurt, cheated, used, abused, neglected and abandoned. Dangerous stuff… No one likes a Taker.

At their core, a Taker is only out to help themselves. Savvy Takers can appear unselfish, gracious, and initially even self-sacrificing. However, over time their true motives shine through. In the end, they are simply working to get what they want.

There are a lot of Takers in the Bible: Delilah tried to take her husband Samson’s strength away. Adam & Eve saw the apple was delicious and took a bite. Lot took the best land from Abraham.

As with each of the Five Capitals, there is a dynamic of giving and receiving. When we are constantly withdrawing from Relational Capital, we find our account drying up. If you find yourself with the tendency of a Taker, consider how you can instead generously give what you have? How can you let others go first? How can you prefer others and honor them?

In addition, there is a big difference between taking and receiving. One is from a posture of fear, the other is a posture of trust. One causes us to grasp for what we need, the other causes us to rest because we have faith that God will provide.


Traders: Always Bargaining for the Upper Hand

As Doug explains,

Traders may care a little about others, just not as much as they care about themselves. Traders always make self-serving deals and tradeoffs (hence the name) that seek to maximize what’s in it for them.

Over the years, business consultants and leadership books have actually promoted this idea. In his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People Stephen Covey states, “Think Win-Win.”

In many ways, this is good and appropriate thinking. However, for the trader, it can easily be: “Yes, but I need to win more.” The difference between the trader and the taker is that they are often more adept at scheming and manipulating so that they end on top.

Doug describes takers as those who are “willing to give up something small in order to get something bigger.”

Notice that traders are not any less selfish than takers. The reason we may not see a trader as such is because their selfishness is hidden behind their decisions to trade one thing they don’t care much about for another thing that they really want for themselves. But the truth is they’re every bit as selfish, and then some, since they also care very much about how they look in the eyes of others.

Ananias and Sapphira were trying to give some land (and secretly keep some) for the trade off of getting the esteem of others. Samson was continually trying to bargain and trade with both God and others to get the upper hand.

If you find yourself constantly bargaining in life, the challenge to remember is “You reap what you sow”. How can you seek to bless others more when they’d like to reciprocate or trade with you? How can you ensure it’s an even trade, or even work to have them come out on top?


Givers: Continually Investing

Again, Doug brilliantly explains the final type:

Givers are truly selfless, not selfish. They are focused on others completely, sometimes at great cost to themselves.

They are aware that others may take advantage of them, yet the overall posture of investment brings a greater prize than the cost. Givers are wise in setting healthy boundaries by not allowing themselves to be continually taken advantage of when other show their true colors.

Despite what conventional wisdom might say, the Givers of the world are the happiest, most content people. They people who bring light and life to this world.

Of course, Jesus is our model here. He gave himself fully so that we all might receive life. His motives were pure and the results infinite.

We see other biblical examples of walking in the way of Jesus: Ruth’s sacrifice for Naomi, Jonathon helping David, Paul’s continual sacrifices for the churches he planted, and so on. It truly is more blessed to give than receive!


So, what’s the one thing you must do to grow your Relational Capital?


Here are some suggestions on how to respond:


1. Do some self-reflection and consider:

  • Which of the three types do you see in yourself?
  • Are there certain situations where you “take advantage” and slip into Takers or Trader mode?
  • Where the areas and opportunities to trust God and grow?


2. Assess your current friendships:

  • Who are you mostly around? Takers? Traders? Givers?
  • How can you continue to take a posture of generosity, while being wise and discerning about those around you?


As we seek to be GIVERS like Jesus, we find that our Relational Capital grows abundantly. And that’s a good place to be!