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A Dozen Ways to Spot Takers Disguised as Givers

We’ve all be taken advantage of – or at least felt that way – at some point in our lives, personally or professionally.  Not everyone shares the credo of “treat others the way you want to be treated” or “do onto others as you would have others do onto you”.

So here are 12 “tells” to help you identify a taker:

1.  They only seem to contact you when they want something and although they may ask how you are, they don’t really care or respond when you tell them something other than the typical “fine, how are you?” and turn the conversation back to them.

2.  The conversation always turns back to them or whatever they want to talk about.

3.  They are demanding and persistent in their persuasiveness to get what they want.

4.  They don’t seem to really listen to you and their smile seems to stop at their eyes.

5.  They don’t ask about you or what you want or need – at least not with any sincerity.

6.  They are one way in public in a group setting and another in private or one-on-one.

7.  They speak negatively about people who don’t do what they want or have questioned them on their actions.

8.  They “name drop” and brag about what they’ve done or who they know – this is a sure sign of overcompensating for insecurities.

9.  They refer to themselves as an expert rather then let others refer to them as an expert.  It’s as though, they’ve bought into their own hype.

10.  They dole out insincere or “over the top” compliments – flattery that’s almost always followed by requests.

11.  They only want your opinion to confirm theirs and they get miffed when, or if, you disagree or question them.

12.  They always seem to want more, no matter what you say or do – and seem to look for  validation at every turn.

Most of this type of taker are known as “Emotional Manipulators”, and what makes them so hard to spot and to defend against is that they actually don’t think they are doing anything wrong or self-serving.  It’s as though they have a sense of entitlement to get their own way no matter what.

Questions You May Want to Ask Yourself:

Would they do for you what they expect you to do for them?

Is what they are proposing actually fair or are they trying to convince you it is?

Do they generally take all the credit and share (or give away) all the blame?

Rules of Engagement

Treat others the way you want to be treated.

Be honest and fair.

Listen to your instincts and/or confer with someone you trust.

Make sure your communications are clear and documented in writing – better safe than sorry – especially in business dealings.

If you think someone is manipulating you, then learn to defend yourself against them.

If you’ve ever been “played” by a taker, don’t fret it as it may be a blessing in disguise, as  now you’ll be more aware and less likely to be manipulated by another taker.  Generally, we learn from our mistakes – or at least we should.

If you’d like more specific information on Dealing With Manipulative People, there’s with an excerpt from George K. Simon’s book In Sheep’s Clothing.  I haven’t read the book, but I may have to if the excerpt is any indication.  If you’re anything like me, you’re curious about people, their behaviours and interactions.

If you’ve got any tips for identifying or defending against Takers disguised as Givers, please comment below.

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  • Andrea Reindl

    Hey Lynne,

    Another name for these lovely peeps is ‘energy vampires’. Thanks for the reminder, I like to purge them out of my life.

    • http://www.facebook.com/lynne.macquarrie Lynne MacQuarrie

      I find that often times if you don’t “feed” them they either go away or self-destruct the relationship. Setting and keeping certain boundaries has helped me. I used to be a walking target for them (and I probably still am to some degree). The funny thing is that once you purge them, there is often a sense of relief or calm or space.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=605605636 Kyle McNeil

    Love it Lynne. “How you do something is how you do everything” … I get an eye for the small details.One day I gathered with a group of people to play a game. The rules specifically said “no cell phones at the table, and if it rings, there was a specific penalty”.This persons phone went off … and didn’t acknowledge it. Instead she tried to hide the fact it happened.What happens when it comes to bigger things in her life? Is she honest … I’m not convinced.–Also there was an MLM guy 6 months ago, who had me and 2 of my closest friends on the phone. We could throw up his picture, in conjunction with your post. I could share more, but want to leave it there. He was a piece of work … hype, and inauthentic sincerity.Love your post!!You’re getting this blogging thing figured out hey 😉

    • http://www.facebook.com/lynne.macquarrie Lynne MacQuarrie

      Thanks Kyle! “How you do anything is how you do everything ” is a quotation often attributed to T. Harv Eker but from what I can gather it’s been attributed to dozens of people.

      When push cover to shove as in your two examples above, it makes me wonder what they were like as kids and what they did to avoid blame/responsibility and/or to get their own way.

      Being full on into a Civic Cycle is making it easier to spot the takers. Some of them with higher profiles are getting pretty desperate to keep or grow their status.

      Blogging is getting easier as I find my voice. Like learning to drive…a bit awkward at first and gets easier from there.

      • Rachel

        Dear Lynn,
        I suggest you read up on Narcissists to really get a handle on this personality type.  Try Albert Bernstein’s:  “Emotional Vampires”.  That book really changed my life!
        Good luck,

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=574169127 Lee Horbachewski


    This is wonderfully written. In a personal development program I used to co-facilitate, we did an exercise called “Givers & Takers” where you had to go around to each participant, connect with them by looking them in their eyes and say either Giver or Taker – at the end of the exercise each participant counted up how many of each you were given. Let’s say Person A received 1 taker & 14 givers, well chances are the one person who said they were a Taker may have their own personal judgements. If it were the opposite and Person A received 14 takers & 1 giver – the taker really should step up, listen and reflect on how they are “being!”

    I love Kyle’s comment “How you do something is how you do everything.” in the end, the Takers disguised as Givers lose their power.

    If there are takers in your life, be grace filled, honest and stand tall in your truth. There is nothing worse than seeing someone be “dissed” in public, this is simply “malicious gossip” whether it’s indirect or direct. At that point you are just lowering yourself to the takers level!

    And Andrea – awesome as well – in Feng Shui we call them that too “Energy Vampires or Energy Suckers”

    Great job Lynne.. Love your writing style!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=605605636 Kyle McNeil

      Hi Lee,

      I’m familiar with “giver taker”. It’s a powerful exercise and as you’ve identified and there’s so many angles.

      For instance … (and this isn’t bragging – I PROMISE), I had ONE “taker” and countless “GIVERS”. I actually wanted (at the time) more takers. Might sound crazy, but I know for YEARS I’d been such a “giver” that I forgot about me. So this experience/feedback gave me EXACTLY what I needed to get more balanced.

      I’m still a giver. Just that now I also find ways to give to me :)

      Interesting hey.

      Courses where the lights are focusing on character, habits and belief … can really change everything. Life experience is powerful. I also know by being in these pressure cooker experiences, if accelerates things in a BIG WAY.



  • LISA O

    Great post!
    Nailed it.

    • http://www.facebook.com/lynne.macquarrie Lynne MacQuarrie

      Thanks Lisa!

  • Anonymous

    Excellent post

    • http://www.facebook.com/lynne.macquarrie Lynne MacQuarrie

      Thanks Chantal! I love your style of writing too.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/lynne.macquarrie Lynne MacQuarrie

    A point of clarification: This post is not about people in need or people who have been in or are experiencing a “needy phase”. This was specific to those who are consistent takers who pretend to be givers to get their own way and often do it from a position of strength or dominance. They are like well-disguised bullies. However, if you are in a constant state of need, perhaps you should rethink a few things in your life and how you deal with life in general. “Victims are often self-assigned so refuse to be one and find a better role for yourself” ~ Lynne MacQuarrie (there I go, quoting myself again. )

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=828032066 Michael Drew

    I don’t like the golden rule, its flawed, I don’t want people to do unto me as they want done to themselves, I want people to do unto me what I want done to me…

    • http://www.facebook.com/lynne.macquarrie Lynne MacQuarrie

      Oh Michael, that’s close enough to be part of the golden rule. As ties in nicely with the fact that we essentially teach people how to treat us.

      • Aline Barker

        I just learned about the “Platinum Rule”, which in essence replaces the “Golden Rule” – and this “new” rule is exactly what you’ve said – treat others the way THEY want to be treated, not how YOU want to be treated. It’s what “being of service” is all about.

  • http://www.symmetry-works.com Natasja Fischer


    Might I just say how much your post ROCKS!

    I can’t add much more as everyone has truly shared what I felt.

    I can say that I’m a Giver (and proud of it), it’s who I’ve always been and who I always will be.
    At times I’ve missed the signs of Takers, but not of Energy Leeches, I can tell one from a mile away!

    Keep the stellar posts coming!

    • http://www.facebook.com/lynne.macquarrie Lynne MacQuarrie

      Natasja, you are a Giver for sure. However, like me, we both could use some help in being Receivers. It just takes time and practice.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jenncockton Jennifer Palmer Cockton

    Noticed that the comments on this post are made by those who know exactly how to give!
    xoxo Jenn

    • http://www.facebook.com/lynne.macquarrie Lynne MacQuarrie

      Giving isn’t usually the problem for most people. It’s either giving – or rather, appearing to be giving – for personal/professional gain or it’s not knowing how to receive.

  • http://www.socialmediaheaven.com Lindsay Wilson

    LOVE this post! Brilliant ~ especially because it’s simply the truth. Thanks for being bold and saying it.

    • http://www.facebook.com/lynne.macquarrie Lynne MacQuarrie

      Thanks Lindsay! Honesty is easier as I get older and my memory isn’t as sharp. lol People tend to blame themselves when they are taken in by someone. When really all they have to do is be more aware and learn from the experience.

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  • http://www.squidoo.com/sociopath_sociopathic Recognize a Sociopath

    ITA with your advice. Take being used by this type of person as a blessing. Recognize the signs and run like hell.

  • Catherine

    This was an interesting read! Its amazing how, as I read it I could see peoples faces, and I got some kind of a new understanding! It is so easy to be manipulated when starting out in business because one wants so badly to trust, learn and grow that it would be so easy to do, or have done to you these things.
    Thank you Lynne, for this a powerful read for me.

  • Dave

    Great post.  As we all know…Givers Gain!  What I found especially funny about this was the it aptly describes my “friend” that posted it to Facebook.  I so wanted to post a comment about it describing him but I didn’t.

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    What a fantastic post, appreciate it very much.

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  • Jeri

    Great post Lynne!  The sad thing is…I can see how I’ve been a taker at different points in my life.  Interesting because I’ve always had people pleasing tendencies as well!!  Great food for thought!!  Thanks for this. :)

  • Bianca Kennedy

    I call these people Emotional Vampires! They feel fully entitled to sap everything out of you be it time, energy, material things and money. I knew one taker that was so bad she was scheduling to move into my house before I even bought it! She was very surprised when I found out about it and said No. Be careful of takers they often paint themselves as victims to get more out of you.

  • TheGiverTaker

    Have you guys every considered the dangers in trying to separate things in such binomial fashion? Isn’t it more realistic to say the everyone is both, but that in some matches, one person usually takes more than the other. what I’m saying is that I find it much less black and white. Often I see “givers” use that as their means of survival… it’s the “game THEY play”. And it is not really hidden. After all they are the ones who get to complain at the end of the day, or feel like the world now “owes” them something….. all because they did not speak up for themselves, or push away “energy vampires” as you say. We all make choices… and chances are when you found out he world was full of “takers” , who “played you”… and you did rise above it…..what you actually did it just shifted your attitude toward the “taker spectrum” as you say.
    I’m not talking about obvious narrsasists, but often people who are “takers” as you say… are people who are up front and assertive about what they need. Some would call that responsible, and commendable for delligating. All I am saying is that you should recognize that it takes work to be clear about what your needs are up front, and to lead…. Should we shun the person who gets what they need, so that later on they don’t have to blame anyone else for their lack of ” fill in the blank” ? Maybe some people ‘take’ and really do use up more of what is available, (energy, resources, etc)……but they are also working towards something much larger… a delayed gratification. If they are on board alone, then their partner will feel like they are “being used”… because I guess they are… but the problem there is that they are not having the same shared goals…. and thus once again, its usually a matter of not being assertive and not doing the necessary person inventory and thinking along the way.
    I’ve been on both sides, I think. And I still am.

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