In my previous post entitled “The Secret to Getting What You Want in Negotiations” I introduced you to the 6 principles of persuasive communication:
- Commitment & Consistency
- Social Proof
I would now like to share with you another way to harness the power of the principle of Reciprocation in your communications and negotiations. If you would like to influence someone in a positive way, it is important for you to realize that you should act first.
Before trying to get someone to do something for you, you should do something for them.
Have you ever wondered why some organizations like Reader’s Digest and some charitable organizations send you something for free when they ask you to sign up for a subscription or a donation? This is because research has proved that you are more likely to do something for someone if they have done something for you first.
In a business context, this means that before you ask someone to do something for you such as agreeing to a budget increase or agreeing to a contract, you should do something to genuinely advance their business prospects. This might mean giving them access to an important report, giving them a topical book as a gift, providing them with the latest research, inviting them to a seminar or anything else that may be relevant within your specific business environment.
Remember, the way the principle of reciprocity works is that we are very likely to return to others the form of behavior that they exhibit towards us. So if I am genuinely advancing your business interests, then I will make it significantly more likely that you will respond in kind by advancing my business interests.
Every time that I have worked with an organization I have uncovered opportunities for them to use the principle of reciprocation to advance their business interests.
Does this ever happen in your organization? You and / or your organization often provide your counterparts either within your own organization or in external organizations with advice, products and services outside of the scope of your agreements. In other words, you go above and beyond the call of duty in the way that you deal with your relationships.
Then, when you are thanked for your efforts, do you (like most individuals) respond simply by saying something like: “You are welcome, I am happy that I was able to help you out”? If you typically respond this way, then you routinely miss the opportunity to get the principle of reciprocity working for you. You will be happy to learn that there is a way that you can use this kind of opportunity to harness the principle of reciprocity to make it significantly more likely that your counterpart will act in support of your interests in future. Here’s what I recommend you should do when you are thanked for your efforts: Instead of saying “You are welcome, I am happy that I was able to help you out”, you should say something like: “You are welcome, I was glad to help you because I know that if the situation was reversed, you would do the same for me.”
In my recommended example, you are registering the fact that a genuine favor was extended to your counterpart by creating an expectation that you would expect the same behaviour in return. I often see companies providing their clients with free services over and above what they are contracted to provide or deliver.
This is a good practice but unfortunately, most of the time, there is little if any benefit associated with doing this. If your counterparts do not expect that you will be asking for something in exchange for that which you provide, then they will just think of it as part of the service that they have already paid for.
You see, people will treat us in life according to how we allow them to treat us… If we have trained our customers / suppliers or other stakeholders that they only have to ask us and we will provide without expecting anything in return, then we shouldn’t be surprised if they ask for it often! So next time that you do something for anyone that is above and beyond the call of duty, make sure that you use the principle of reciprocity to advance your own business prospects.
Remember, the whole system works better when those who give also receive something in return. The premise for negotiation is that it should be an exchange – that is the only sure way that collaborative relationships can endure for long periods and withstand all the pressures of conflicting interests that arise from time to time. For more information on creating a world class negotiation capability, click here to take a look at our Executive Negotiation Workshop.
- For 2 registered participants, we offer a third registration (accommodations still at your charge).