Relationships Are A Two-Way Street

Many of us are taught from a young age that it’s the thought that counts when it comes to showing the people closest to you that you appreciate them. In other words, it is not the item itself that lets someone know that you are grateful for them, but rather the planning and care that went into it.. 

The concept of reciprocity is closely linked to this practice of intentional and thoughtful displays of gratitude. When we feel as though someone has set aside time to show their appreciation for us, we as humans are more inclined to return the favor. When considering reciprocity in this way, it becomes clearer how the practice can be beneficial in a work setting. Reciprocity is truly essential to developing meaningful and long-lasting business relationships both with your peers and with your clients. 

Why We Stress Reciprocity 

Author Robert Cialdini emphasizes the principle of reciprocity in his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, discussing how we are hard-wired as humans to stand on a level playing field with others. Even if we receive something we didn’t necessarily want or even necessarily like all that much, we are somewhat pre-conditioned to want to do something in return. 

It is clear then that we lose immense potential in the strength of our business relationships when we do not properly leverage reciprocity. Data from the U.S. Small Business Administration shows that 68% of customers end a business relationship because they don’t feel appreciated or cared about. The good news is that reciprocity in action is extremely simple to grasp and implement once we break it down.

The Harvard Business Review defines reciprocity as one of the best ways to elicit return favor-giving. This so-called “return favor-giving,” begins with our own actions. Whether it is giving a shout-out to a colleague for their impressive work or treating a client to a lunch of their choice to celebrate a deal, the key to reciprocity is to lead by example. 

Reciprocity In Practice 

It is crucial to consider authenticity when leveraging reciprocity in business. Just as is the case with any other business practice that focuses on relationships, you want to ensure that your efforts come across as genuine rather than self-promoting or generalized. 

That’s why Thnks includes several customization options with all gestures  of appreciation available on our platform. Going back to this idea of “it’s the thought that counts,” the more care you put in from the start, the more you will receive back in return. 

Part of coming across as genuine is consistently showing appreciation over time. While one act of gratitude will likely be cherished by its recipient, repeated efforts are far more likely to truly make you stand out to clients and encourage reciprocal relationships that will sustain in the long-term.