The law of reciprocity is all about an action being rewarded with another action in return. But how does this all work exactly, and how do you best use it to benefit your life and the lives of others?
This law is all about spreading to good between us all, and it’s something that more people need to practice. This article will look at how the law of reciprocity works, and some practical ways that you can use it.
What Is the Law of Reciprocity?
The simplest way to look at the law of reciprocity is that you should do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The problem is, this sometimes can take on an ugly form with people only making gestures to get something in return.
This is often used by salespeople who generally have no interest in your betterment and are only out for themselves. They will often give out something for free so the other person feels an obligation to return the favor, which is based around buying a specific product.
We want to ignore this particular aspect that is more about persuasion than it is reciprocity. Instead, we want to focus on reciprocity to spread more joy, support, and caring among one another. This is a law that will usually trigger a positive reaction in another person. When you do even the simplest, kindest gesture, it generally triggers the desire in the person to act similarly.
Reciprocity is about the sense of obligation to return the favor. That may sound like a burden, but we are talking about small, intimate gestures that go a long way in helping us all feel better about ourselves. The act of giving goes a long way in instilling a positive impression in the mind of the other person. And that’s what this is all about; creating as many positive experiences as we possibly can.
What Are Some Ways We Use the Law of Reciprocity Every Day?
You are probably using this law every day, and not even realizing it. A basic example is the idea of a simple smile. When we smile at someone, the other person will usually smile back. Your action is you giving the smile, and the reaction is them returning the smile to you. This is one of the most practical, simple, but still effective ways to practice the law of reciprocity.
We do not understand what other people are going through, and even though they walk around carrying a brave face, they could be suffering on the inside. It’s incredibly powerful what the simple act of a smile can do to another human being and – even for just a moment – it will lift their spirits. That act is returned to you, also causing you a boost in endorphins and a sense of happiness.
This is, of course, the most basic example of this law – but you can see how powerful it really is. Now, you want to continue to put this law into practice as much as possible. What are some other practical ways to use the law of reciprocity?
1. Creating a More Harmonious Home Environment
If things are a bit chaotic in your home, it may seem easier to blow your top than to deal with disastrous situations. Say that you come from work only to discover a mess all around the house. You’re trying to remain calm, but then one of your kids comes running through and knocks a dish off the table, causing it to break. Your child is in near hysterics, and this could end in a total breakdown for everyone, or you could use the law of reciprocity.
It’s not always easy, but in this situation, it would involve not losing your temper and instead, comforting and hugging your child. This would not be the reaction they were expecting while also expecting to be forced to clean it up. Tell your child to go and do something else while you clean it up. It’s not unlikely to find a child resorting to a more peaceful and apologetic situation as they’ve seen the gentle approach you’ve taken and are responding in kind.
By yelling and punishing, you would probably get a similar response. By taking a gentler approach, you allow for inner peace to be created instead of a harsh situation. This is not the easiest thing, but if we do this on a daily level, you will get more positive reactions instead of strife, fear, and anguish.
2. Repay Things as Soon as You Can
This isn’t specifically related to money, but it still applies. One of the most practical ways you can use reciprocity is by returning favors and gestures as soon as you can – even if it’s something small. When you don’t, people can often think you are taking advantage, and that’s the opposite intentions we should go for.
With close friends and family, you may have a little more leeway in the length of time you take to pay someone back because there is a closer intimacy. With people like coworkers or associates, you’ll want to repay them as soon as possible for the reciprocity to work its best.
3. Helping Out A Stranger
We’ve discussed reciprocity with people we are in close contact with, but what does this look like in the outside world with people you don’t know? It’s all about creating the best environment you can in whatever situation you find yourself in. And this can be as simple as holding a door open for a stranger. If it’s an entrance with more than one door, you can be pretty certain they will make sure to hold the next door open for you.
Again, these are small gestures, but reciprocity working like this creates a better sense of community and connection between the people living in it.
We all want to live in the most supportive and encouraging society possible. This isn’t always going to be possible, but by practicing the law of reciprocity, we can create the closest semblance to an ideal living situation.
Reciprocity all comes down to being the change you wish to see in the world. If you want joy, kindness, and compassion, it starts with giving it to others. When you do this, you allow it to find its way back to you.
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