The Power of the Law of Reciprocity

Do you ever wonder why you feel compelled to return a favor to someone who has extended their helping hand to you? Sometimes you’ll even go above and beyond for that person because they first went out of their way to help you. That is the Law of Reciprocity in action. The Law of Reciprocity basically says that when someone does something nice for you it creates in you a deep psychological urge to do something nice for them in return. Amazing, right!

Now imagine bringing this into your work life, your investing, or your relationships. Maybe you bring a co-worker a cup of coffee in the morning. It will likely cost you $3-4 but I’m sure it will make their day – or maybe even compel them to provide a little more data in the next report that will save you an hour or more at work, all because you took 5 minutes to get them a cup of coffee. Maybe it’s referring your real estate agent someone out of your circle who wants to sell their house and because you brought them business they provide your with their next pocket listing. Or maybe it’s giving your significant other a small memento to remind them how much you care about them and the next day you come home from work your whole honey-do list is done, all because they wanted to repay your kind gesture in a way you would appreciate. All of these have transpired in my own life – and not because I wanted my co-worker to do more work, not because I wanted my agent to send me a specific deal, and not because I wanted my wife to mow the yard (she’s a real woman’s woman for that btw) but because I genuinely wanted to do something nice if not for anything more than to say, “I care about you are value our relationship”.Bringing the Law of Reciprocity into your life and business will produce surprising results. In his book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Dr. Robert Cialdini delved into the notion that reciprocity is the most powerful form of persuasion because it makes a person feel obligated to “repay, in kind, what another person has provided us.” The surprising and subtle part of reciprocity that it is not always tit for tat and a small favor can often times produce a much larger reciprocal favor. Think of the waiter or waitress who, after seating you and taking your order for 6 mozzarella sticks, brings you an order of 8 mozzarella sticks with a genuine smile on his or her face. Now I would bet your (maybe) 10% tip would likely double or more based on this one small gesture from them. You might exclaim, “Man, that’s the best waiter I’ve had in a long time” based on this small gesture. It was a small favor on their end which produced a larger, reciprocal gesture from you. This is the Law of Reciprocity in action.

Oftentimes that virtue is skipped when people stick their hand out and expect others to help them or do things for them. We evermore frequently see examples of entitlement where people want someone else to deliver success to them on a silver platter. They want to skip the work and jump right to the finish line without even entering the race. There is a reason name tags do not read “Hi, how may you help me?”. It doesn’t work that way and those who try will fizzle out.
If the act comes from a genuine place I could almost promise you that it will be received as such. Providing value to to others will act like a boomerang of goodwill when it comes from a genuine place.

The best way to grow your reach, influence, success, bankroll – whatever you are after is to provide unrelenting value to others on a consistent basis. Don’t take short cuts because the road to success requires a little bit (often a lot) of grinding to get where you want to go. Show others you care and offer small tokens of help to others along the way and, like a boomerang, it will come back around to you.

Expect every person you interact with to be the Salt to your Peppa and offer something (however seemingly insiginficant) whether it’s an item, an action, a piece of advice, or anything of value you can extend to someone. If nothing else it will create a stellar first impression and it will stick with that person. It may not happen immediately but due to the Law of Reciprocity they will feel they owe you something and you never know how big that next favor could be. Give it a try in your next interaction. Give instead of take and I bet you will see results.

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