Reciprocation is Important for Building Friendships
When typing up a recent piece on building friendships (5 Traits You Have to Have to Be a Good Friend), I missed an important 6th trait: reciprocation.
Of course you love it when a friend realizes the trouble you went through to get his/her reservations at an exclusive restaurant or tickets to a sold-out event. S/he says “Golly, gee whiz! Thanks a bunch! You’re super de dooper and swell to the max!” and really means it in the pits of his/her pajamas.
Talking isn’t enough.
If this friend fails to follow up and reciprocate, it can put a dent in an otherwise groovy buddydom. What if you’re the friend who has to give back?
“How do I reciprocate in a way that doesn’t feel forced or mechanical?”
Easy. Preemptively strike. If you’re always first in giving, others will want to give back. That way, it doesn’t matter if you reciprocate. Pow!
“But what if they gift me first?”
This is also easy. If you’re a good friend, you keep track of what your friends are into. With a little effort you can be forever a half step ahead. Just arm yourself with a list and add to it every time you think of something.
Personally, I try to keep a mental list and it’s a disaster. I do have some people’s names and future gifts scribbled in a notebook and I try to add to it when I remember to and can find the notebook. There are also a ton of scribble notes in my sock drawer, some of which have gift ideas on them.
Perhaps your record keeping methods are a bit more meticulous than mine, but the key is to be conscious of what’s going on around you and zero in on something if you think a loved one will love it (and strike first, if possible).
“What if it’s an acquaintance that I don’t make lists for?”
Ah, the loose acquaintance wants to give you something. It’s funny when you can barely remember someone’s name and mistakenly ask if you’ve met before every other time you see each other and suddenly this person wants to give you something pseudo-thoughtful. This may sound like a hairy pickle, but it is actually the easiest situation to be in.
The solution? Give anything. It doesn’t matter. That you gave the person a gift instead asking his/her name for the millionth time is its own reward. It might even be enough to catapult you into legitimate friend territory – as long as you don’t forget the name.