Monday, 11 January 2010

#1: A favour given isn’t necessarily a favour owed.

Throughout Jan I will be posting installments of the "12 entrepreneurial lessons I learnt from 2009" series I introduced last Friday

Let’s picture a reality in which you wrote a lovely blog piece about me.
Yeah, I know.. but imagine you had found a few kind words to say and strung them together into some elegant and witty prose; perhaps you linked to my blog, my twitter, the company site, even my Amazon wishlist* all entirely unprompted and of your own volition. That’d be nice of you, wouldn’t it?
And let’s say I even got a few customers from your efforts. That’d be really nice.

Now imagine you get in touch with me a few months later, you know how successful your post has been in driving me valuable traffic and you suspect you’ve helped increase my sales. You approach me at an event and ask me to endorse your new product on my, now pretty well eyeballed, site because.. y’know, you wrote that post a while back and it’d be kind of me to return the favour. You heavily imply that I owe you and speak as if my agreement is a given. As it happens however, as nice as you might be and as kind as you may have been, I don’t rate your product at all. Worse than that, I've actually only ever had negative experiences of it.

You’ve put me in a pretty tough position, torn between feeling indebted to return the gesture and my own integrity.

Will your previous kind actions weigh it into the balance of my decision? Of course! I’m nice like that. Do I consider a tacit agreement to have been made? No I do not. If you’re doing me a favour with the underlying motive of receiving something in return, you need to be upfront about it. State your proposition! If what you can offer is beneficial to me, and if what you want in return is agreeable to me, I’ll most likely agree to the trade. If what you want in return isn’t something I am comfortable to give then I’m not going to be swayed by a series of kind gestures impressing a sense of obligation onto my shoulders. That sounds... well, a little like bribery to me.

This lesson, of course, goes both ways. If you simply can't give me what I am asking for, no amount of me being lovely to you will, or should, persuade you to make that compromise for me.

More than once last year did I find myself going uncomfortably out of my way to help someone, motivated simply by a feeling of obligation to ‘hold up my end of the bargain’ when no such bargain has been made. Hence the first lesson I’ll be carrying into 2010:

A favour given isn’t necessarily a favour owed.

* Lesson #1b, it never hurts to try ;-)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You can only be honest. Reply and tell the person that, whilst you appreciate the lovely piece they wrote about you, you are not a fan of this particular product. If you were to mention said product on your blog etc, you would have to be honest with your readers and express your genuine opinion, and you don't believe that this would create the interest that is desired. Should they wish you to look at any future products they produce, you would be happy to do so. Just not this one...

P.S. the 'Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom)' link isn't working!