I bet most of you have never heard of something called behavioural economics or the Law of Reciprocity, right? Well interestingly enough they both exist. In simple terms, behavioural economics is “why we act the way we do, in both big and small ways and helps us to better understand the people around us and most importantly, helps us to understand ourselves” and the Law of Reciprocity is simply what should be a “deep-rooted urge to do something nice in return to what someone has done for you”.
We all make bad decisions sometimes and some of us seem to make those decisions frequently. This doesn’t mean we make these bad decisions for no reason. There is something that again, most of us have never heard of but yet we all could think of situations where we have experienced the “Yes…Damn!” effect. Basically the “Yes…Damn!” describes situations where we make promises to do something in the future and then we immediately regret saying yes to a promise that we know we will have a hard time fulfilling because we have already over-committed ourselves.
We all do this…saddling ourselves with more than we can complete given the time we have. For some of us it is taking on too many extra work assignments but for a lot of us it is not being able to say no to people we care about and others whom we interact with on a regular basis.
I’m one such person, rarely saying NO to extra work or helping someone. I’m a very caring person who strongly believes in community, loyalty and using the things I’m really good at to help others in every way I can. I spent a lot of my time helping market other’s businesses, providing complimentary health and safety consults to small businesses, I sponsored young athletes who didn’t have the means to pay for massage, provided complementary massage for events; provided services in support of sports teams; volunteered my services and advice for whatever I believe to be a good cause and to whomever asked for help and I would routinely provide complimentary personal training and nutrition services to people who don’t have the resources.
There comes a time however, when you become overextended and begin feeling a bit resentful, frustrated and sad simply because part of you is hoping for some degree or reciprocation…. give and take…helping each other. After all our adult behaviour is strongly affected by the social rules that were drilled into us from childhood. One of these is what I call the “Rules of Reciprocation” or basically “we should give back to others, the form of behaviour that they have first given to us”.
We are placing expectations on others based on this very basic social rule and when others don’t follow this rule or simply have not learned the importance of “give and take” or “rules of reciprocation”, it makes us feel resentful and uncomfortable.
We must however, understand that not everyone will have that deep-rooted psychological urge to do something nice in return for what has been done for them and as a result, we must continue to as business owners and as individuals not feel sad or resentful but rather continue to use it sincerely and for the right reasons but at the same time saying NO! more often so as to not over extend ourselves …..resulting in YES….DAMN!
Share your experiences with reciprocity and your YES…DAMN experience in the comments.