Life would be a lot easier if people recognized there are really only three kinds of people in the world. So says John Scott, an entrepreneur who started with a truck and a tool box to become a successful contractor and real estate developer.

"It's been my experience in life and in business that people come in only three basic varieties," says Scott, who is also author of The Joe Dial, a graphic tool that measures positive and negative energies so people can adjust their lives. “There are givers, takers and those who fall in the middle with qualities of both. These people represent different mixtures of positive and negative energies, and understanding how those energies work—both with others and within ourselves—can make our lives at work and at home a lot easier."

His definitions of the three kinds of people are reasonably detailed, but a simple overview of them includes:

Givers: These people are typically honest and sincere and have a driving concern for the world and everyone in it. Givers feel a responsibility to treat everyone with dignity and respect. They see it as their duty to leave the world in better shape than they found it. The danger for people who are primarily givers is that they tend to be easily taken advantage of by takers. The pure giver often fails to assess a situation to ensure their best interests are being protected. They don't truly understand the taking mentality and do not realize there is a whole class of people out there eager to take everything givers are willing to give, and then some.

Takers: Keep in mind that taking in and of itself is not a bad thing. We must all have a bit of taker in all of us if only to afford others the opportunity to be givers. Moreover, takers are not necessarily bad people. They've simply been raised to be takers by having been given too much as they were growing up. For instance, a fourth generation welfare recipient has been given no other model but taking. Pure takers entire orientation in life is one of receiving, of trying to maximize the gain in every situation. A true taker operates out of a position of fear, always assuming there won't be enough to go around, always strategizing so he gets his share and more.

Taker-Givers (T&G): These folks strike a balance between taking and giving, and generally have a developed set of instincts about when to give and when to take. As a rule, they don't want to take advantage of anyone, nor do they want to be taken advantage of by takers. Courtesy is both extended and expected in return. Some key characteristics include:

  • They let you pay for lunch one day but insist on paying the next time.

  • They are able to both lend help as well as ask for help.

  • They listen and talk in roughly the same measure.

  • They carry their weight on a team, but don't allow themselves to be used.

  • They're not excessive with either lending or borrowing.

  • They clean up their own messes.


"In my estimation, about 70 percent of us fall into that T&G category to some extent or another, with the other 30 percent split evenly between givers and takers," Scott says. "By recognizing these elements and trying to practice the principles of giving and taking in equal measure, you can revolutionize your own workspace no matter what position you may have. The positivity will ripple outward, changing not only yourself, but the people around you."