Those who make your life easier — and those who make it harder.

Those whose presence helps you perform better — and those whose presence makes you do worse.

Those concerned about doing the work — and those concerned about getting the credit.

Those who leave you feeling up — and those who leave you feeling down.

Those who simplify — and those who complicate.

Those who listen when others are talking — and those who wait when others are talking.

Those who give — and those who take.

Those who last — and those who fade.

Which are you?

55 Responses to “There are two kinds of people in the world . . .”

  1. Cindie says:

    Righton..
    and those who get it, and those that don’t.

  2. Ben Knight says:

    Sadly our world culture gives more support and help to those who exist in the 2nd part of each statement given. I would make an addition to this as well: Those who are concerned with experience — those who are concerned with ideas.

  3. what’s even more interesting is that there exists these 2 kinds of people and parables only within our perception/understanding!!

  4. Alan Matan says:

    I promise to make life easier for others, helping others become better. As I work with others, I promise to make sure to work hard, staying positive throughout the process. I promise to listen and reflect before talking. I will give and give and give, and not look for credit.

  5. Damn you Dan Pink.

    This line:

    Those who leave you feeling up — and those who leave you feeling down.

    Now has a Barry Manilow song stuck in my head.

    “I’ve been up, down, tryin’ to get the feeling again”

  6. Carol Roth says:

    Dan,
    This is so important for everyone to think about, not only to make sure they are on the “left side”, but also to think about how you are spending your time (including in business). There are many customers and clients who have a giant opportunity cost attached to them because of the emotional effect they have on you. A great reminder.

  7. Aerin says:

    This really hit home for me as I just celebrated a year of being in business for myself. Instead of hoping my employer would be some of those things, I now know that I can strive to be on the left for myself, my clients, and my peeps. Such a simple post, but it really makes you think.

  8. Joe McCarthy says:

    I like this list (and additions offered by other commenters).

    I typically characterize the two kinds of people as

    energy sources – and energy sinks

  9. Dan Pink Dan Pink says:

    This Tweeter (@businesstoarts) has a nice distinction similar to yours, @joe: Radiators and Drains.

    @jeffrey — C’mon. Admit it. You’ve got Manilow tunes in your head all day anyway. Every time I see you, you’re humming Copacabana.

  10. Ana says:

    Good list Dan.
    Joe, I call them white holes and black holes.
    Very important to watch out for black holes, they can ruin a project, a team…

  11. Strong correlation with Dweck’s growth and fixed mindsets, no doubt…

  12. Dan Pink Dan Pink says:

    @nick — Brilliant point. Hadn’t made that connection. Of course.

  13. Angela Harms says:

    I think you missed the mark on this one. There’s only one kind of person in the world, and that’s a person with the same deepest needs and desires as me, because we’re both human.

    And all of us have strategies we use to meet those needs. All of us have some strategies that fit on the right, and some that fit on the left side of your list of dichotomies.

    You *do* get that, don’t you?

  14. xanthe says:

    I don’t know. Some situations require that someone to speak up and challenge the status quo. That action doesn’t make the life of the spoken to easy or simple.

  15. jodi says:

    I’m sick of binary defaults. It’s too easy to jump to either or. I think the future is about the grey area between. It’s important for graphic rep folks not to feed into the lazy data dumps like the rest of the world. I expect more from you…

  16. pw says:

    I am all of those 2 kinds of people. Sometimes.

  17. Mike says:

    I tried to write a response to each but, there is some duplication and, it is all very very subjective.
    For instance: a teacher or professor may seem like they are in your way, making life very hard and complex, making it all hard. They seem to take and take. As a student, you hate them. But as an adult, you look back and realize, they did the right thing for you at the right time. They did more for you and what you became than the giving, helping, simple, fun teacher you loved who, in retrospect, was none of those things for you and from whom, you learned far less.

  18. Yaya says:

    Absolutely accurate Dan. _ Let me remaind you these two. -Those who claim the power like USA and those who Became victims of that power like the rest of da world. LOL

  19. JM says:

    When presenting in conferences and with our staff, I reference three types of people: 1. Those rowing with you, 2. Those rowing against you, and 3. Those drilling holes in the bottom of your boat! I have a list I have used for speeches of my top 25 Rules, Principles, and Observations of Life. Rule #5: “Everything in life falls into two categories – Worth it or Not Worth it. Dealing with the rowers is worth it. Support, encourage and empower those rowing with you. Confront, educate, diffuse, and include those rowing against you to the point necessary. You probably won’t change the hole drillers = Not Worth It.

  20. Mark Barnes says:

    Those who teach — and those who grade

  21. Eileen says:

    …and those who DON’T wait while others are talking.

  22. steve epstein says:

    you missed ‘the good the bad and the ugly line…

    there’s two kinds of people in this world…
    those with guns..
    and
    those who dig….

    (throw shovel …)

  23. carol ann says:

    wow! Dan!
    you sure got ‘em talking in quick time.
    I liked your epistle and then I read the
    responses to it and liked them too. Maybe
    I am not a real deep thinker.

  24. Julie says:

    Those who divide the world into groups of two — and those who don’t.

    • Matt says:

      People who think like this, are those who seldom if ever think. They don’t know there are significant differences between how people do things.

  25. Michael says:

    @Julie “Those who divide the world into groups of two — and those who don’t.”
    This is the smartest one

  26. Jody Watson says:

    I wish all would take the time to really reflect on those words. I know myself I don’t always listen, I wait. Thanks for making me think once again Dan. I will post this on my wall!

  27. Michael says:

    I’ve heard there are three types of people: those that can count, and those that count.

    Or maybe it is just two types of people: those that begin things and those that… oh look, a new email

  28. Shannon says:

    You are a trickster, Daniel Pink. Of course I disagree with the ‘two kinds of people’ thinking, but so, I suspect, do you. The comments are super and you are a crowd-sourcerer extraordinaire. Well done.

  29. Scott says:

    I came in to work this morning to be met with a message stating, “thanks for being one of those on the left side of each sentence in my life,” and a link to this page. What a great way to start the day!

  30. Mark Tyler says:

    Aren’t we all, very often, all of these things? I find little profit in looking at the world this way. Moment-by-moment there are those who encourage in our journey together, and those who need encouragement in our journey together — no how long or brief our encounter is — from our elderly parents to a stranger passing on the street.

  31. Dan,

    Thanks for the post, and, as usual, stimulating conversation as a result of your thoughts. I’m not so sure I agree with the “two people” piece of this, and do have some thought for more consideration.

    - My view of the world is to focus on what I can contribute, give, and share. This comes with connection, listening, caring and also surrounding myself with those who energize me. At the same time, one inevitability in life is that we will “bump into” others who are “takers” as you say, or sap energy, rather than zap you with new energy. We can learn as much and gain as much from those interactions, as well, and become better for it.

    So, not so much an either/or situation about who people are, but rather a taking every interaction as an opportunity to grow, learn and give.

  32. Gary Cohen says:

    One of the greatest challenges in developing leaders is to help them understand how to use disequilibrium as a tool in leadership. Many of us seek equilibrium in our life – seeking balance. Parents do this to make life in the home balance by being the positive of the two elements and yet by creating just enough tension you can create change. Our school superintendents are caught up in this same issue. To be the change they need in their district they my need to be both sides of the same attribute to create the right amount of disequilibrium and not too much. If they believe they need to be only one side of that equation they will come up short.

    Dan, if I remember you were trained as a lawyer which makes your entry predictable and yet you write more like a philosopher which let’s me know you see further toward the gray in the world. Great kindling to stoke the fire of good conversation.

  33. Jesper says:

    There are 2 kinds of people: Those who oversimplify by dividing people into yes-or-no categories, and those that think more nuanced.

    Which one are you?

  34. Aaron says:

    those that think there are 2 kinds of people, and everybody else

    thanks, Angela and everyone else who’ve pointed this out.

  35. And we’ve all heard of the “three types” of people in the world:
    1. Those who make things happen
    2. Those who watch things happen
    3. Those who wonder what the hell happened.

  36. Kathy S says:

    Yes, but a lot of people are a bit of both….

  37. Tom Heck says:

    I thought there were THREE kinds of people in the world: those good at math and those who are not.

  38. Grout says:

    Trite/Thoughtful. Guess which side this blogpost is on?

  39. Susie Thomas says:

    It may simplify things for us to put ourselves into these black and white bins… but I’m not sure how helpful it actually is in living a fulfilling and fulfilled life. If you are taking 100% responsbility for your own reality, and avoid rushing for the victim position that blames others for your reality, then perhaps you can open yourself up to accepting and loving the grey shades in us all — including yourself.

  40. Relatedly there’s the Distance Rule of Friends and Acquaintances:
    Finding the right distance to have for each person

  41. Pretty good start and I appreciate the effort to codify. Though I think you’d get more mileage and resonance out of it if, instead of the “those who last and those who fade” angle, you just ended with

    “Or not”

  42. This is not a black and white world.

  43. First be generous. I have one tenant I live my life by, “be helpful.”

    We do live in a world that is shades of grey, polarization isn’t always helpful, but I think it’s being used here to illustrate a point. We could add additional catagories, doesn’t make any contribution,etc. In this case I think polarizing is a good idea, get on the bus or get off the bus.

  44. Kelly says:

    Very thought provoking! Those are such great responses.
    I think what’s important to remember here is if you see something in yourself that you don’t like ( waiting instead of listening) then make it a part of your conscience habit to change it.

  45. Marcus says:

    Dan, so nice to imagine, our world would all be filled with people who act “on the left side…”

    But is it not, that the more people live on that left side, the higher the payoff for those who dwell on the right side?
    Isn’t this again about the misery of social dilemmata?

    Even if so, the good news are, that we all have the choice of which side to live on….

    Happy Easter all to all !

  46. Marco says:

    There are two types of people in the world: Those who divide the people in the world into two types, and those who don’t.

    Dichotomies force us into dichotomous thinking which is entirely not useful in a complex, nuanced world.

    There’s much about your stuff that I like, Dan – this wasn’t among your best, I’m afraid.

  47. Guy Farmer says:

    Thought-provoking post Daniel. I’d like to think I’m the type of person who helps people discover how wonderful and talented they are. Hopefully, I encourage people to enjoy life at work a little more as well.

  48. Good grief! What is with all the negative comments?

    Reminds me of C.S. Lewis, the Weight of Glory. With every encounter we have with another human being, we push that person towards the good, or to the bad. We can push them to become better, or knock them down a peg. There are no neutral encounters.

    In each encounter, we can choose. Dan, your list frames that choice well.

  49. Diane says:

    It seems to me that you have 16 kinds of people listed here, not two.

    I infer that you mean there are people who have all of the traits on the left and there are people who have all of the traits on the right, and the groups are mutually exclusive.

    I can’t help but think of when I was studying probability in a Finite Math class and we talked about “combinations.” It seems more likely that the “kinds of people” in this world are practically infinite, which makes trying to figure out what motivates them particularly challenging.

  50. Stella says:

    There are two kinds of people in this world – those who believe there are two kinds of people in this world and those who are smart enough to know better.

  51. “What kind of energy am I bringing to this situation?” Great stuff as always, Dan. Thanks.

  52. Sky_riri says:

    Those who love Rihanna
    And those who hate her!!

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