I’ve been listening to Robert Cialdini’s audio book “Influence” as I’ve been driving around Tasmania.
One of his 6 principles to influence people and encourage compliance is “Reciprocity” or in other words, “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours”.
This week, I was fascinated to watch the psychology in action.
We went for a walk to Wineglass Bay lookout in the Freycinet National Park in Tasmania. It was about 1.5 hours from the carpark through absolutely stunning landscapes of rocks and trees.
Of course we were not the only tourists making our way to the lookout.
When we made it to the top, it was standing room only as each group took their photos on cameras and smart phones.
“Would you like a photo taken?” asked one of the travelers.
“Oh! Yes, thank you, that would be nice,” I replied.
We posed. He clicked and then retook the photo on his wife’s instructions for a better position.
And then I witnessed the psychology in action.
“Can we return the favour”, I asked, without thinking. “Would you like a photo, too?”
Of course they did, so I handed Ross their camera and he did the honours.
It was our turn a little later to offer to take another couple’s photo and as if like clockwork, they offered to return the favour to us.
I was fascinated.
The science shows us that when we offer to do something for another, often unexpected and without expectation, the result is that the other feels obligated to us in some way and so as far as their brains go, they want to wipe the slate clean and not be obligated or owing in anyway.
Cialdini also explains that Reciprocity is necessary for us all to survive. We need others to do things for us and to help us. We can’t do everything by and for ourselves, so it’s not a bad thing. It only becomes negative when unscrupulous people use the science to manipulate us into complying with what they want.
Your action this week is to take notice of Reciprocity. Notice when you offer to do things for people or just do them without expectation and notice when others do things for you. Notice how you feel. See if you feel obligated to clear the slate by doing something nice for them or as BNI teaches, Givers Gain. See if you feel compelled to pay it forward and thereby wipe your slate clean by giving to someone else.