When I think of immutable laws, I usually think of things like gravity and thermodynamics. Lately, I’ve been reading and thinking more about the law of reciprocity. It’s amazing that something so simple is so reliable: if you are helpful and gracious to others, they will feel obligated to be helpful and gracious to you. This can play an important role in your success.
Experts tell us that the law of reciprocity is deeply ingrained in society—perhaps because give and take was originally essential to human survival. For example, if I shared a portion of my harvest with you, it was critical to survival that I receive something sustaining in return. So much rested on the law of reciprocity that it remains powerful (and often operates at an unconscious level) in our non-agricultural society. I recently read of a study that demonstrated how people are inclined to feel indebted over very small gestures—as small a gift as a can of soda.
A high percentage of top-level leaders share characteristics that stretch beyond intelligence, talent, and hard work. Others describe these leaders as friendly, respectful, helpful, generous—even selfless. Top level leaders are prone to follow the law of reciprocity—and it works. Others go out of their way to help these leaders succeed. We can all learn from the example.