The Norm of Reciprocity

by Jessica Locke

I ran across an interesting concept recently - it was one of those things I think we've all experienced and/or intuitively know; but I didn't realize there was a scientific name for it. 

It's called The Norm of Reciprocity and it's a term psychologists use to identify a specific human behavior. Here are some examples of the behavior it identifies:

When someone says, "have a nice day" - you generally respond with the same phrase.

When someone allows you to merge in traffic - you often will allow someone else to do the same later that day.

When someone sends you a holiday card - you make sure they're on your list as well.

When someone likes your Instagram feed - you will often like theirs back.

You get the idea...

The Norm of Reciprocity says that when someone says or does something nice for us - we tend to respond "in kind". Meaning - we give back what's been given to us. (Thankfully) most of us respond to kindness with kindness. Whether it's in word or deed we react in a similar manner. Obviously, this is just good manners, right? There are not too many of us who routinely react to kindness with mean spiritedness or rudeness. Thank Goodness!

But, I'd like to suggest how powerful this Norm of Reciprocity can be in our professional endeavors as well as our personal ones. We talk a lot here at about our Mantra - Do More, Be More and Give More. And the words Give More apply to lots of things - hugs, smiles, time, gifts, compliments, compassion, knowledge, service, content, the list can go on and on. Although, we aren't suggesting that you give just for the sake of getting - we do believe that

 the more we live our lives (professional and personal) with a spirt of kindness and abundance the universe can and does flow that back to us! All too often I think we're taught - in business - to operate from a feeling of scarcity. An underlying "fear" that there won't be enough of whatever commodity we're providing to go around. Competition seems to be everywhere and we feel compelled to join in the race to get the most, finish first, be the best, etc. But what if we worked towards a "new normal" and used the concept of Reciprocity to guide our business goals? What if we gave all we could, treated our customers and perceived competitors with kindness and generosity? I'd be willing to bet we'd find that there was enough success to go around, that none of us would finish last in the race of life and that the majority of us would be happier and more content. I vote we give it a try - what's there to lose really?

(Mantra Cards fit perfectly into our KIT Planner Dashboard. You can find them right in our shop!)

There are lots of #kitgirls out there who already exemplify this Norm of Reciprocity and we commend you! It's my hope that all female (and male) entrepreneurs will use their platforms (whether they be social media/ e-commerce based or not) to lead by this example and illustrate what Psychologists have already named for us. Perhaps we can show the rest of the world a new business model - one where the Norm of Reciprocity is a critical component to all mission statements. 

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this? Have you heard of this term before? Maybe a strong dialogue on this topic can shift our thinking from competition to contentment!

Wishing you Kindness and Abundance!


Team KIT