There are many situations in life where you need to influence others. The ability to influence others is a critical leadership skill in businesses and official roles in the government. You also need to get cooperation from people in your own family, at school, and in your community.

When you can influence others, you’ll meet your own goals and also help others meet their potential. In this post, we’ll look at one important technique that helps you influence others – the principle of reciprocity. 

Reciprocity is a psychological phenomenon that is well known and often used in business marketing. Very simply, reciprocity is the desire to do something for someone else because they did you a favor or helped you in some way. 

The use of this principle as a marketing strategy and in everyday leadership roles has become common thanks to the work of Dr. Robert Cialdini. He has written several books, of which, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion is a major success. 

Let’s look at practical ways you can leverage reciprocity in everyday life and business and influence others.

Become a better negotiator

Whether you’re negotiating for a new job role, a business opportunity, or are trying to win over your in-laws, reciprocity can help you arrive at a reasonable agreement. 

Seasoned negotiators in business often concede to a small point in negotiations. This creates goodwill in the other party and because of this, when the negotiator asks for something, the other person is more willing to agree to it. 

Look for ways to apply this in your own life. If you’re managing school activities or need to get approvals from people in authority, then coming forward and helping them first will drastically improve your chances of getting what you want later. 

Grow your business

During this pandemic, many people have started their own businesses, blogs, and side hustles to stay afloat. If you’ve started a business and are trying to win customers, then reciprocity can help you grow faster. 

On your website, offer people a free download. This free download can be an ebook, a guide, a checklist, or a how-to video that helps people solve a problem. Offer this for free and ask your site visitors to simply sign up for your newsletter in exchange. You’ll see a large number of people sign up for your email list. 

And when you have people on your email list, you can communicate with them through a newsletter on a regular basis. As your audience gets to know you, you’ll grow your business and have another source of income during times of crisis. 

Become a more effective leader

Your task as a leader is to get people to work together and achieve specific goals. You may be a teacher, a mom, a business owner, or a team leader at an office – in every leadership scenario, reciprocity can help influence people positively

Take the first step and give people time off if some problem takes place. Celebrate birthdays, leave encouraging notes, and be forthcoming with praise and appreciation for the work people do. Parents who give non-material rewards to their children will win their cooperation and also help raise their child’s self-esteem. 

Mentor others

The best gift you can give to others is the gift of knowledge. And mentoring is a powerful way to transfer your knowledge to people who need it. When you mentor other people at work or in everyday life, you’ll build a positive image yourself and be recognized as a person of influence and authority. 

It’s an impactful way to network with others and to win goodwill. You’ll influence the future generation and build connections who can help you out at some other time. 

There are several ways to share your knowledge:

  • Join online membership sites that are exclusively driven towards connecting mentors and mentees
  • Create podcasts or YouTube videos and share your content
  • Make blog posts and articles and share your advice on social media

As you do this, you’ll build a visible presence online and share your ideas with a large number of people. You could influence large groups of people if you leverage social media well. 


Leveraging reciprocity is something that we do in everyday life. There are studies that say reciprocity is biologically hardwired behavior that has helped us survive as a species. 

However, it’s not something that can be misused to serve your goals at the expense of others. Human beings are intuitive and will recognize, and then resent, any attempts to take advantage of them. 

When using the principles here, be mindful and authentic when you offer a gift to your customers or do favors for others. You have to care about others and offer something they want and need. And you also have to accept that you won’t get something in return all the time.

In any case, helping other people out is one of the most personally fulfilling activities there is. Work with the ideas given here and you’ll grow as a person and also achieve personal and professional goals.