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Nice Guys Finish First: How Empathy Leads to Success

“Although we often stereotype givers as chumps and doormats, they turn out to be surprisingly successful.” So writes Adam Grant in his celebrated new book, Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success. Grant is an organizational psychologist at Wharton who has studied the question of reciprocity in the professional context. His research has found that not only do our interactions with others greatly determine our success, but givers often achieve “extraordinary results across a wide range of industries.”

Another book, The Bonobo and the Atheist: In Search of Humanism Among the Primates, tackles this same question, from a different perspective. The Dutch primatologist and ethologist Frans de Waal looks at the evolutionary origins of empathy, noting that apes, for instance, will “voluntarily open a door to offer a companion access to food, even if they lose part of it in the process.”

Like Grant, de Waal’s big idea is that “compassion goes to the root of what life is all about.” 

The authors also share one other thing in common: they will both be appearing in Big Think’s studios tomorrow, and we invite you to submit your questions to them in the comments below. 

Image courtesy of Shutterstock


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