The Power of Reciprocity in Business

Posted by Allan Steinmetz on 11 February 2014

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The power of reciprocation is one of the strongest human elements that affect our behavior. A simple act of aid or generosity goes a long way. Robert Cialdini, Author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, explains that even in circumstances where we are not obligated to give back, we still feel a need to do so, because of the power of reciprocation. This natural tendency that all humans possess can be effectively used to strengthen your internal and external brand.

Respect: As a manager, it is important to treat your employees as equals. Giving every person a voice and being open to ideas allows for a strong and effective team. In effect, allowing your team the freedom to try new ideas without judgment will encourage them to experiment because you have created a positive environment for innovation.   

Trust: Building trust with your staff is important. The more trust you show them (i.e. not constantly peering over their shoulder, giving them space to work and report back) will be recognized and returned through more open communication. Once they believe you trust them to perform their jobs without constant intervention, they will work harder to exceed your expectations over time. 

Share valuable information: Customers are always looking for additional value without the additional cost. Offering them insightful knowledge, such as best practices or industry research, is a perfect way to build a relationship with a customer. Once an individual has recognized that they have received something of value, they are more likely to strengthen the relationship by offering something in return. This could be opting-in to your newsletters, following you on social media, or agreeing to a product demo. 

Build a long-term relationship: Building a relationship with your customers will help to ensure they remain loyal brand advocates. Show that you care by consistently providing exceptional customer service, offer quality products or services, and give them an incentive to remain loyal through deals, special status or other rewards.

The power of reciprocation is subtle and  rarely a conscious decision, but it is very effective, especially in the business world. Strive to provide value to  your employees and  your customers, and they will be more inclined to reciprocate in kind.