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Monday Motivation: The Principle of Reciprocity in Business – Especially for Women

April 11, 2022

Monday Motivation for Women Entrepreneurs, Female Business Owners, Small Businesses

There I was young, under 40-years-old, trying to make inroads in a pretty male-dominated government relationship in order to secure future business. I accepted a volunteer role for one year in hopes my work would shine and garner me referrals for paid work in the future. The year’s work wasn’t too hard and the men I reported to were really pleased with the outreach, attendance, and event missions.

I don’t think they knew I studied and understood the psychology of relationships called the Principle of Reciprocity. This principle defines the human need and tendency to want to give something back when something is received. This need is strongest when the gift is given without expectation of return. The strongest and longest lasting interpersonal relationships are based on the Principle of Reciprocity.

So, one year later when I sat down with two of the male leaders requesting bidding options for future events after proving myself they said, “Sorry Tracy, we aren’t sure we can do that, we work with a lot of people in town and have to keep our business ties a certain way,” Understanding completely they meant, they gave their business to old male work buddies was the distinct impression they made and I witnessed the following year.

Almost fifteen years since that busted attempt to gain work as a competent female event planner, one of the two men reached out to me to ask me for information to support a new event venue opening in town. What a surprise, it was for one of their clients. Hmm, I thought to myself, do I have the heart to tell them they lost the ability to ask me for any business support fifteen years ago? I sat on the request a while.

What I’ve learned since working with mostly men with my first business compared to working with females ever since in my second business, is the pure fact, women support other women better than men support women in the business world. I’m certain I’m not the only female who couldn’t break through the proverbial glass ceiling of men helping men first in order to get ahead. Honestly that experience might have in fact fueled my flames brighter to start a woman-owned company, only focused on hiring and supporting other women-owned businesses and encouraging them to hire women first in every endeavor.

I suppose I should be thanking this past client for his decision fifteen years ago to open my world to a more trusting, reciprocal, environment of women in business because of his and his partner’s decision making, but always one to be PR-focused, I will call him back, decline to help him and his client and suggest he try calling one of the male event planners in town for assistance. It makes sense, doesn’t it?

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