Reciprocity “I Saw That” – Karma

Reciprocity “I Saw That” – Karma

Imagine getting a free coffee from your favourite barista, then feeling compelled to leave a huge tip. Or receiving helpful advice from a colleague, making you eager to assist them with their next project. This instinct to return favours is known as the Reciprocity Effect.

The Reciprocity Effect is rooted in our deep-seated social norm of returning favours. When someone does something nice for us, we feel an internal obligation to reciprocate. This isn’t just about grand gestures – even small acts of kindness or generosity trigger this response surprisingly effectively.

Savvy persuaders understand this. From building relationships to closing deals, the Reciprocity Effect is a tool to influence choices and create a sense of positive obligation.

Image Courtesy: Canva

Details & Examples

Let’s explore three ways you can strategically apply the reciprocity effect:

  • Freebies with Benefits: Don’t jump straight into your pitch. Offer something valuable upfront. This could be a helpful content download, a trial period, or even a small, personalized gesture (handwritten notes never go out of fashion). This primes the recipient for reciprocation when you present your actual offer.
  • Concessions Breed Compromise: In negotiation, be willing to make the first concession, even if it’s a minor one. This makes the other party ready to reciprocate, and signals your desire to cooperate, moving the process forward.
  • Emotional Reciprocity: So much of persuasion is about building an emotional connection and gathering information. If your counterpart is hesitant to share, take the lead and open up to them. This builds trust and encourages the other other person to do the same.

Understanding the Reciprocity Effect is a superpower for anyone who wants to be more persuasive. Masterful marketers, negotiators, and networkers utilize reciprocity to build goodwill, influence decisions, and create lasting, mutually beneficial relationships. Think strategically, not manipulatively. Focus on providing genuine value, and the returns will follow.

Be the person known for generosity and value – that’s when reciprocity truly pays off.

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Monthly Challenge

Ready to put this into action? Here’s your challenge:

  • Pick a Goal: Do you want a potential client to agree to a meeting, a coworker to support your project, or to improve a business relationship?
  • The “Give”: Figure out something valuable you can offer upfront. This could be a resource, a small favour, or simply taking time for a genuinely helpful conversation.
  • Don’t Push: The key is sincerity, not manipulation. Give without an immediate expectation of return.
  • Observe: Notice what happens. Did the other person seem more receptive? Was there a shift in your dynamic?
Image Courtesy: Canva

Want to Learn More? Check out these great resources:

The website VeryWellMind has a great overview of the Reciprocity Effect, including many real life examples.

For a more in-depth review, the classic tome, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini, has an entire chapter devoted to Reciprocity.

About Authors

Ben Wise and Darren Chiu are the co-founders of Captivate, providing tactical tools to help you increase your powers of persuasion. They are sought after speakers on the psychology of persuasion and have appeared at industry events, conferences and corporate training programs. Beyond Captivate, Ben Wise is a 15 year advertising industry veteran who has held successive sales and leadership roles at Google, where he is currently the Head of Programmatic Media working with the largest agencies and brands in Canada. Ben is active in his community where he serves on the Board of the Daily Bread Food Bank and recently completed a two year term as the board chair. Ben also advises multiple startups on sales and go to market strategy and volunteers in various mentorship programs helping students and young professionals. Darren is a Strategy Lead at Google, helping brands across all industries develop best in class marketing strategies. With over 12 years of industry experience, Darren’s passion for communication doesn’t stop at the world of business and sales. In his spare time, Darren moonlights as a comedic storyteller, stretching his creativity and perspectives beyond the boundaries of his professional life. As a recognition of his dedication and expertise, Darren was selected as an Emerging Leader in Advertising & Sales by The Peak in 2023. If you are interested in connecting with Ben and Darren to learn more about Captivate or to book a speaking engagement, you can contact them on LinkedIn (profile links)).

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