Boss Lady

The law of reciprocity: A business boon


Give to get a tax write off. It’s something that comes up a lot in conversations with accountants. Yet, there’s a great case for giving much more when it comes to business and, in return, getting much more support for your company in return.

The law of reciprocity is our friend

The law of reciprocity is a psychological concept. It states that if you do something nice for another person, they will feel obliged to do something nice for you. One peculiar aspect of this principle is that they will often feel obliged to do something on a greater scale than you did for them.

So, for example, it’s been shown that if somebody offers to make drinks for a group of people at work, those people are more likely to volunteer to work on that person’s project when they ask them to.

That is, in exchange for a drink (which is usually no cost to the person making it in most work environments), colleagues are happy to take on extra work.

The important part of using the law of reciprocity

It’s a funny thing but human beings are social creatures and the law of reciprocity plugs into our deep seated urge to live in harmony with other people. However, before you start to work with this law, it’s important to know one thing.

This law only works when the gift you give is sincerely given and comes with no strings attached.

In short, the law of reciprocity does not give you a license to act like an amoral sociopath manipulating people at every turn. “Here, have a cheap plastic pen, now clean my car and get your kids to mow my lawn,” will not work.

But done right, the law of reciprocity can reap huge rewards for your business in the long term.

A sense of community

We just said it, human beings are social creatures. When you create an environment in which your business gives generously of its time (both on a corporate and individual level) to others – you begin to form a community around you.

This not only makes you feel better but, in the long run, creates a culture outside of your organization which thinks well of you and wishes well for you. Brand ambassadors arise naturally. Positive mentions on social media abound. Your generosity takes on a life of its own.

Creating trust and goodwill

There’s a distinct lack of trust in modern life. How often have you seen someone offer something “free” and then when you read the small print, you realize that it’s not free at all? They’re not being generous, it’s a trap designed to get you to commit to a loan, a mortgage, an unfavorable contract.

Giving sincerely eradicates these bad feelings. When a manager goes to a local school to talk about your industry or your staff decide to pitch in with a local drive to clear garbage in the neighborhood – nobody’s being asked for a thing.

They can take time to get to know you, appreciate what you do and seeds of trust and goodwill are planted. Sure, you can’t harvest them immediately but sooner or later they will bear fruit.

It makes everyone feel good about themselves

Going to work to do a job satisfies our bank accounts but it doesn’t always satisfy our souls. When your business starts to give to the local community, the people involved from your organization will be there to do the giving.

They’ll notice how people’s attitudes change towards them, the difference that they make in the real world, and they’ll feel better for it. They’ll feel proud, not just of themselves, but also of the company they represent.


Giving isn’t about the getting back even though, sincere gifts are almost always repaid at a later date but rather about the benefits it brings your business in so many ways. Give it a try, you won’t regret it.

About Selina Tomasich

Hair Aid Inc., founded by Selina Tomasich, is an amazing non-profit organization that takes volunteer hairdressers into developing countries to teach individuals rescued from sex trafficking, living in critical poverty and slum conditions how to cut hair.

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