How You Make Coffee At Work Says A Lot About You

Yesterday started as what seemed perfectly.  We had recently gotten a new Keurig at work and it has made me look forward to arriving early and making a cup.  So, I came in early and watched as the Keurig brewed my coffee.

The water tank looked low as I hesitantly pressed the start button, hoping that I wouldn’t have to fill it before making my cup.  It used all of the water except for a quarter of an inch at the bottom. I felt a huge triumph as I realized I was in the clear and my cup started filling.  I narrowly dodged having to fill the machine.

I happily sat drinking my coffee until I heard a co-worker complain, “Ugh, no one ever refills this.”  My triumph ended up being a crappy start to her day.

At work, we fall into one of two people- we are the type that refills the Keurig after we’ve used it for the next person or the type that fills it only when we have to refill it for ourselves.  We are the person that considers others or the one that only worries about ourselves.  

That morning, I was the type that only refills it when I personally need it.  I was the one who emptied the tank, but I didn’t feel like refilling it because it didn’t affect me.  Depending on the day, depending on the situation, I think we are all this type at some point. But, we don’t have to be.

We often assume that if we don’t act for our own benefit that we will be taken advantage of.  But, this actually isn’t true. In his awesome TEDtalk, Adam Grant discusses the benefit of being a giver over a taker.

Research shows that the most successful people in their fields fall into the category of givers (this is actually the smallest number of people as well).  They seek to elevate those around them without concern for what they will gain.  As a result, givers do gain benefits and are often reciprocated by other givers or others who rise to meet them as matchers.

Grant states, “Every time we interact with another person at work, we have a choice to make: do we try to claim as much value as we can, or contribute value without worrying about what we receive in return?”

By refilling the tank, we improve the experience for the next person.  By considering those around us, we improve the environment around us. If everyone worries more about each other, we ultimately have to worry less about ourselves.  And, it feels much better to give to others than it does to act individually.

When given the opportunity-- how will you refill the tank?


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