I have done enough for you, Apollo; now it's your turn to do something for me.
—Rough translation of inscription on a Greek statue of the God Apollo, 700–675 B.C., demonstrating ancient understanding of the concept of reciprocity.1
Come that's very well—very well indeed!
Thank you, good sir—I owe you one.
—George Colman, The Poor Gentleman, Act IV, Scene 1, (1762), demonstrating an artistic understanding of reciprocity in the 18th century
To address the kinds of challenges we have described in Chapter 1, how can you influence those over whom you have no authority? The short answer is that to have influence, you need resources that other people want to trade for what you want. This key to influence is based on a principle that underlies all human interaction, the Law of Reciprocity.
Ignore the Law of Reciprocity at Your Peril
Reciprocity is the almost universal belief that people should be paid back for what they do—that one good (or bad) turn deserves another.2 This belief about behavior, evident in primitive and not-so-primitive societies all around the world, carries over into organizational life. One form in work settings is “an honest day's work for an honest day's pay.”
People generally expect that, over time, those people they have done things for “owe them,” and ...