Nothing is Free

June 20, 2015

There’s always a catch.

In his book Influence, psychologist Robert Cialdini talks about the six strong weapons that can, well, influence us. One of them is Reciprocity.

Humans are social animals. We are hard-wired for the act of reciprocity.
If you smile at me, I’ll smile at you.
If you hate me, I’ll hate you.
If you do me a favor, I’ll return the favor.
Sometimes, whole countries will remember a small favor done by another decades before. And come to their aid during hardship or war.

The classic example of reciprocity is the Hare Krishnas at the airport passing out plastic flowers. Those fuckers forcibly gave plastic flowers to passerby. This act of “free gift” had selfish motives. The more flowers they gave away, the more donations they received. Later, they would go to the trash and pick up the discarded plastic flowers, to be reused.

Nothing is free.
Costco doesn’t give free samples so you can get a free lunch on sunday.
They know their math.

Casinos don’t have cheap great buffetts for your benefit.

Walgreens doesn’t give out free rewards cards for your wallet’s health. Once you sign up, the odds of you coming back & spending more will be much higher (1. Reciprocity 2. Commitment & Consistency, another weapon).

I know folks who keep spreadsheets of how much cash they received for their wedding. And they give the exact amount back to that person for their wedding. Not a penny more, not a penny less.

My parents gave me a free credit card for college.
To buy books and food and whatever.
Of course I used it mostly on the “whatever.” One time I came home for the holidays and they questioned me on a $50 purchase. Threatened to take away my credit card unless I spend money the way they want. They really put me in my place that night.

I realized their trick. Credit card meant slavery. So I took a pair of scissors and cut the card into a dozen pieces in front of them. Fuck em. I’d rather be poor and homeless than answer to anyone like that again. I didn’t want to get addicted to luxury before the point of no return.

If someone does you a small favor today, expect that you will do something in return for them later. And it’s better to settle your scores early.

The Godfather may help you today.
But be ready, he’ll be back.

Influence (book) – Robert Cialdini
Summary of Influence – Derek Sivers