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Disagreeable Givers

Feb 12, 2024

Disagreeable Givers and The Power of Human Connection

by Vern Schellenger, CEO Contacts Count    2/12/24


In Adam Grant’s most recent book Think Again, he describes the following strategy when he begins to write a book:

“When I write a book, I like to enlist my own challenge network. I recruit a group of my most thoughtful critics and ask them to tear each chapter apart.  I’ve learned that it’s important to consider their values along with their personalities – I’m looking for disagreeable people who are givers, not takers.  Disagreeable givers often make the best critics: their intent is to elevate the work, not feed their own egos.  They don’t criticize because they’re insecure, they challenge because they care.  The dish out tough love.”


At Contacts Count, one of the competencies that we have developed is Envision Your Ideal Network.  Your ideal network has several different networks.

  • Your WORK NET – those individuals who you work with on a regular basis to get your work done.
  • Your ORG NET – all of the other employees in your organization. If you work solo, it is all the other people related to the work you do.
  • Your PRO NET – all the other people who work in the same profession you do
  • Your LIFE NET – your family, friends, people in your social circle, your place of worship

And then there is what we call a KEY NET.  What Adam Grant calls his challenge network.  Whenever you are faced with a big decision, a difficult problem, a major career decision or a big challenge (like writing a book) we recommend you create your own KEY NET.  Who are the people in any of your other networks who might be able to help with whatever your goal, challenge or big decision you are facing. 

 The more robust and open your network is the greater the likelihood you will have a number of possible contacts who may be able to help you with whatever the issue is.  Who are the people in your network that you have built a trust-based mutually beneficial relationship? How might they help you figure out the best path forward?

 Notice that Adam Grant looked for “disagreeable givers”.  People who would be willing to give him candid feedback on each chapter of the book.  And people who would challenge him based on their trust-based mutually beneficial relationship.  When you have that type of relationship each of you is there for the other person because you care about the other person.  You are willing to help the other person whenever you can.  Each of you is an advocate for one another and always there for support and help each other in any way you can.  When two people have become advocates for each other they experience the power of human connection!

How many advocates do you have in your network?

Interested to find out – email me for a short quiz to see if someone is really your advocate or if you have any thoughts, comments, or questions.

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About the Author                                                                                                                                                 

Vern Schellenger, President and CEO of Contact Count.

Contacts Count is the premier coaching and training organization

dedicated to helping you use the power of human connection to transform your career, business, and life.

Vern is dedicated to empowering professionals and entrepreneurs with the strategies, skills and tools to master networking (even if they are introverted and don’t like networking events).

What drives me is a steadfast commitment to enriching lives through the profound power of human connection. I am devoted to instructing individuals on how to engage in networking that not only fosters trust-based, mutually advantageous relationships but also profoundly influences both their professional and personal spheres. This is where my heart truly lies, in the realm of human relationships and the transformative impact they hold. Every moment that allows me to contribute positively to another's journey fills me with immense gratitude and fuels my passion even further.


Discover tweaks you can make to your networking approach that will help you dramatically improve your skills and reduce the time it’ll take to find that person who has the power to hire you!