Using The Law of Reciprocity and Other Persuasion Techniques Correctly

Have you ever felt the need to help someone who has helped you in the past? This is known as the law of reciprocity. It is one of the many different persuasion techniques that you can use to influence others.

Keep reading to take a look at how it works and how to use it correctly.

Law of Reciprocity

Persuasion by reciprocation is based on the law of reciprocity. It’s considered by many to be the most powerful law of human nature. Basically, it states that,

“If you do something nice for me I’ll do something nice for you. I feel obligated to reciprocate.”

For example, if we go out to lunch and I pick up the bill, you almost always offer to pay for it next time. Next time we go out to lunch, you insist on paying for the bill.

There are different types of reciprocation which I will explain below.

Emotional Reciprocation

Emotional reciprocation is where you make people feel good. Saying things like,

“Thank you, it’s a pleasure to meet you, I know how busy you are.”

“Thank you for your time.”

“This is a beautiful company or a great opportunity to speak to you.”

Whenever you say anything that causes people to feel better about themselves, they have a deep unconscious need to reciprocate.

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Material or Financial Reciprocation

Another type of reciprocation is called material or financial reciprocation. An example of this is when you do something physical for someone such as helping them move or lending them your lawnmower, they want to pay you back by reciprocating in some way.

We have a deep psychological need to be even with others. If a person does something for you, we feel a need to get even by doing something nice in return.

The reverse is also true in that, if you do something that hurts others, they will feel the need to hurt you back as well, so be careful with that.

Look for Opportunities to Do Things for Others

The starting point of the law of reciprocity is to do things for others. Something as simple as opening the door for someone, or getting someone a cup of coffee is a very powerful technique that you can use to cause people to like you and to feel obligated to you.

The Socratic Method

The Socratic Method means to simply, ask a lot of questions. The more questions you ask of another person and listen closely to the answers, the more the person will like you and be more open to being influenced by you.

The more questions you ask during a negotiation and the more open you appear to see things from another person’s point of view. You’ll find that they will be more reasonable as well. They will follow the law of reciprocity.

How to Deal With Negotiation Disagreements

Whenever there is a disagreement in a negotiation, where there is some pushback or disagreement, come back to it. Put off any part of the negotiation aside, keep going through the rest of the agreement and then later, when all things have settled, come back to the other issues.

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Agree Slowly

It’s very easy to agree quickly. Even if you have no problems with the particular issue in the negotiation, go slowly through it. The slower you go, the more strength you will have later on when you come to issues that are of greater importance to you.

Always consider how an agreement may affect any SMART Goals for your business or personal agenda – both short and long term.

Using the word “Fair”

Pushing the fairness button in a negotiation can also give you leverage. Use the word “fair” over and over again. They have found that in television debates, especially in politics, the politician who uses the word fair when they say things like,

“That’s not a fair interpretation.

“That’s not a fair way to describe the situation.”

“People aren’t paying their fair share.”

The word fair triggers an emotional feeling to be even, that you should back off rather than be unfair to someone.

Remember how children are always saying, That’s not fair! That’s not fair!” It’s because of how strong the word is.

Ask for Something in Return

In negotiating, always ask for something in return. If you don’t ask for something in return, soon those people will ask things from you and not reciprocate at all.

Learn: 3 Negotiation Skills of Persuasive People Here.

“Price” and “Terms” are Different

As a final point to remember, in negotiating you can pay almost any price for something if you can name the terms.

I have found this tactic particularly useful when writing and publishing books, which involve distributors, printers and publishers, etc.

A great negotiator once said, “I’ll pay you $1,000 for that gold pen in your pocket, even though you only paid $250 for it, as long as I can name the terms.”

The terms were, every time I pass you on the street, in New York, on a Wednesday, I will give you $1 until the thousand dollars is paid off, with no interest.

Therefore, you can agree to a higher price as long as you can negotiate and agree to terms that are much more favorable to you.


There are many ways to leverage reciprocity to get what you want in life. In general, anyone interested in learning how to be successful may benefit from studying such persuasion techniques.  You also will want to learn all about the Pareto Principle, which explains how 80 percent of results are from 20 percent of the effort.

What do you think about the Law of Reciprocity? Leave a comment below.


The Law of Reciprocity & Other Persuasion Techniques
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The Law of Reciprocity & Other Persuasion Techniques
Learn how to use the law of reciprocity, the socratic method, and push the "fair" button in negotiations to give yourself a powerful advantage.
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Brian Tracy International
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About Brian Tracy — Brian is recognized as the top sales training and personal success authority in the world today. He has authored more than 60 books and has produced more than 500 audio and video learning programs on sales, management, business success and personal development, including worldwide bestseller The Psychology of Achievement. Brian's goal is to help you achieve your personal and business goals faster and easier than you ever imagined. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin and Youtube.

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