What If Knowing One, Simple Thing About Your Own Psychology Could Positively Impact The Rest Of Your Life?
Would you want to know that thing?
What if it could save you money, improve your success when negotiating—and even allow you to take the upper-hand in situations you previously found yourself being taken advantage of?
Would that be worth something to you???
Because that one thing is buried deep within us. It's branded into our psychology by society. And we respond to it like we breathe air...
A Secret Super-Power Buried In Our Society
This one 'thing' can have an effect on why you make certain purchase decisions—or you may have seen it at play if you've donated to a charitable cause.
You have assuredly had plenty of encounters with this one 'thing' throughout your life. It's even caused you to build relationships. And it's caused those relationships to deepen.
That's because this 'thing' isn't always good.. or always bad. Like many other processes or tools—it can be used for good... or for evil...
In fact, at some point, it may have even caused you to take irregular actions. Actions that went against your personal motives. Because (and this is the scary part), the thing I'm talking about can be exploited.
In fact, it frequently IS exploited—and most everyone has been on the receiving end. You've probably bought things you don't need because of it.
You may have even performed uncharacteristic favors for acquaintances. Favors that you were completely uncomfortable with doing... but you did them anyway!
So, what is this unseen, but powerful societal force that underscores your psyche... and my psyche?
The Powerful Force Of Reciprocity
"Okay..." You might be thinking. "How can the ancient art of 'gift-giving' have any effect on my entire future?"
Well, it's not really about the giving of gifts back and forth. It's actually the concept of "indebtedness."
You might not realize this, but the concept of "indebtedness" drives our society as a whole. It's indelibly linked to our most basic need: Survival.
You and I are linked together in a far-reaching network of "indebtedness." Let me explain:
Us humans don't rely on our brute strength to be the apex predator, top-of-the-food-chain creatures we are today. We didn't pick up the reins on this world by bashing grizzly bears with our bare fists or learning to MMA fight with lions.
On the contrary, we use innovation and technology (a.k.a., tools) to give ourselves the edge. And at some point, we realized that when we work together to innovate, we are much more effective at it.
Now, that would be completely fine, except that pseudo-common-sense would state that:
"We need to look out for ourselves and our family first. Screw the idea of giving free information and tools to the competition! If we give valuable information to others, then we lose our edge, right?"
When we work together, we achieve our greatest feats as human beings. We're able to accomplish exponentially more and with better results when we work together.
And that fact is at least partially responsible for the "rule of reciprocity" that underscores our society and each of our personal psyches.
Let's give an example:
The Rule Of Reciprocity In Action
Imagine you have a project you need done. You want to build a new deck for your house, but you have virtually NO building experience.
While you attempt to gain knowledge on deck-building, you begin searching online for different answers to your questions.
During your search, you're met with some free information (in exchange for your phone #) from a local construction company that teaches you how to draw up your own schematics of the deck you want to build.
Excitedly, you draw up pristine, picturesque blueprints for your new deck. It's everything you dream it would be, and you know your significant other will LOVE it.
You show him/her... and she falls in love immediately with the design.
That was valuable, right? And it was absolutely free... One might even consider it a "gift"... don't you think?
But what's next? You still need to build the deck, right? But you don't know how to do that part yet.
As you ponder more options, the phone suddenly rings.
"Hello," you answer. Immediately you're met with the cheerful voice of a company representative from the construction company that helped you create your amazing designs.
"Hi there! How's the new deck project going? Did you enjoy the blueprint course we sent you?" The construction guy asks, a genuine and caring tone in his voice.
The conversation continues, and you have a great time telling him about your journey in drawing up your plans, how much your sigfig loves them, etc.
He goes on to ask you if you're going through with the plan and whether you've decided on a contractor to build... or if you're planning on doing it yourself.
Long story condensed, he offers to come out and give you a free evaluation of your designs along with tips to improve them.
"Sure!" You quickly agree, happy to have the extra knowledge.
He shows up and gives you even more information. Things you NEVER would have thought of. When he's done talking, and you're dazzled beyond belief, he asks you to consider having their company come out and build it for you.
At this point, how hard is it to tell this man "no?"
After everything this construction guy's company put into helping you with this deck project... You practically owe it to him to let them build it!
That's reciprocity. And in this case, it's not a bad thing.
Because everyone gets value out of it. You're building a relationship based on increasing levels of exchanging value.
He gave you something valuable, which helped you design your deck. He even gave you more value by helping you improve your design.
You give him value by signing off on a contract that makes him money and furthers his business.
He gives you more value by using his expertise to build your dream deck for you.
You have now built trust. You may now use this contractor to tackle bigger renovations. You're highly likely to refer this contractor to a friend. All of this is exchanging value in a healthy way...
...And it all started with a gift.
That's what reciprocity is all about!
Simply put, there's an undeniable force that tells us "if we received a gift, we should respond by granting the 'gifter' a similar request."
And that powerful concept is buried deep within our society. In fact, it's so powerful that multiple studies have been done on it.
Our Biggest Problem: Reciprocity Exploitation
The problem with this "force of reciprocity" is that the gift given doesn't have to be requested by the recipient for it to enact the feeling of "indebtedness."
You can probably see the issue here. One example, from Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D., in his book Influence: The Psychology Of Persuasion... shows how the Hare Krishna group exploited the power of reciprocity to get donations.
The group used to post up in airports and give people flowers as they walked by. They would shove a flower in the hand of unsuspecting airport-goers.
And they would under NO circumstances allow the person to give back the flower, even if they didn't want it.
They would say, "It is a gift for you! But would you consider giving a small donation to our group?"
That simple tactic resulted in an explosion of funding for the Hare Krishna group, leading to the construction of new buildings, temples, and the like on an international scale...
Pretty alarming, isn't it?
I'm not going to get into a thousand examples here, but let me let you know... there are thousands.
You've probably experienced many of them yourself. When used incorrectly, you may have called these tactics "buttering someone up."
When used correctly, the use of reciprocity is like the oil in a value-giving machine. Or the movement of pistons back and forth in an engine as they create momentum.
How Can This Knowledge Improve Your Life?
There are many ways this knowledge can improve your life, but we're going to just focus on two of them.
1) The Ability To Get What You Want
The next time you have a big deal to land, a job promotion to work toward, or anything else you need to accomplish to improve your life... You can use the power of reciprocity to help you achieve your goals.
However, you must use the information with subtlety and authenticity. And remember that the value and gifts you give shouldn't be used to exploit others.
But know this: You can use reciprocity to ask for more than you give. It's designed to work that way.
Because that's the way a "value-chain" is created. One person gives a little more value in each step of the chain. The value continually increases, back and forth, as we innovate and achieve our goals together.
We're WIRED to respond that way. But make sure not to abuse it.
2) Your Defense Against Exploitation
The second way you can utilize this knowledge is to defend yourself against exploitation from marketers and salespeople.
Most of us have surely bought something and walked away shaking our heads, wondering why in the world we just made that purchase.
"What a great salesman," we say, wincing in defeat.
That's because these marketers and salespeople understand tactics like this. So... The next time you receive a "free gift"... make sure to evaluate if that person is really giving as much value to you as they're asking you for.
Don't feel obligated to respond with a yes if the thing given is actually a "sales device." If it's a "sales device" it's really not a gift...
Knowing that will help you turn down irrelevant offers that make a play on the "rule of reciprocity."
I hope you enjoyed this post. Be careful with the information and use it for good... not evil...
P.S. If you don't mind, would you give me an upvote??? Cuz' I'd like to know how I did. Thanks! :)