How To Benefit From Social-Emotional Reciprocity
Good relationships are sometimes hard to establish and even harder to maintain. You can greatly improve the odds of having successful relationships by engaging in social-emotional reciprocity.
Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash
What is reciprocity?
One of the fundamental laws of social psychology is the reciprocity principle. When we pay back what we receive from others in social situations, we are engaging in reciprocity. If I do you a favor, there’s a reasonable probability that you’ll do me a favor in return.
What is social-emotional reciprocity?
Social-emotional reciprocity is the back and forth interaction that takes place in communication. We take a social approach to have conversations with others, and we share our interests in our discussions. Part of that social-emotional reciprocity is knowing how and when to initiate or respond to others’ social interactions.
Some of the skills necessary to engage in social-emotional reciprocity include:
* Talking to someone
* Making eye contact
* Demonstrating something
* Using a chart or graph
* Writing a note, email, etc.
How to show emotional reciprocity
You must provide empathetic support to someone, which that person will similarly return to you when you need such support. Behaving in this manner will allow you to develop deep relationships that have great meaning and value to both parties.
How to show social reciprocity
Social reciprocity is tied closely to emotional reciprocity. Why? Because it involves social interaction that flows back and forth. In such exchanges, one person’s behavior influences that of the other person and vice versa.
How to have a reciprocal conversation
A reciprocal conversation means two or more people exchange words back and forth with each other, like in a game of catch. Instead of a ball, you’re tossing and catching words and thoughts between one another.
Why reciprocity is important
If you want your relationship with someone to be productive and rewarding, you must invest emotionally in that person. A relationship must reach a point where both partners emotionally invest in it to do whatever is needed to build and maintain it. Both parties must commit to ensuring a reward-cost balance in their relationship. And that is where social-emotional reciprocity comes into play.
Since reciprocity should ideally be a “two-way street,” you want it to be as balanced as possible. If it is, there will be positive reciprocity; if not, it will represent negative reciprocity — not a good thing. The most obvious example of balanced, positive reciprocity is when people exchange gifts at Christmastime. However, a relationship can get out of balance negatively if one person tries to take advantage of the other by asking them to do more in the exchange; this results in unbalanced, negative reciprocity, putting the relationship in grave danger.
The value of reciprocal friendships
A healthy friendship means that the principles of social-emotional reciprocity are used in a positive, balanced way at all times. It’s a given that when you say someone is “my friend,” then the other person also thinks of you as a friend. Thus, there is an inherent expectation that mutually-beneficial reciprocity will occur.
Examine your relationships
Every so often, you should stop and take a good look at your various relationships. Are they based on a solid foundation of positive social-emotional reciprocity? If so, those relationships are well worth not only maintaining but deepening. However, if the opposite is true, you should seriously consider severing that relationship because it is unhealthy and unrewarding for you.
Bottom line: If someone doesn’t reciprocate as they should, it’s best to terminate that relationship and move on.
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Thank you for reading. (Copyright Terry Mansfield. All rights reserved.)
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