Those who don't reciprocate should be shown the door


When it comes to reciprocity, you have to recognise the importance of it.

By Shilpa Bhasin Mehra

Published: Sun 17 Oct 2021, 11:04 PM

How honest are we in our writing/feeling? Do we truly mean what we write? Much of our correspondence has words like “mutual interest” or “reciprocate the same”. How much do we really reciprocate what the others do for us and vice versa? Sometimes we need to sit down and take account of things and people around us. Some people are fond of doing stuff for others because doing so makes them feel happy. That’s great. But what is not great is when others start to take such people for granted, forget about reciprocating. What amazes me is how comfortable some people are in a given situation that reciprocating doesn’t even enter their mind.

It is sad that we are living in times when things are being treasured and people are being used. What I want to tell the people who use others is that a time will come (and maybe very soon) when you will hear a flat no. There is an extent of being nice. Everyone has a threshold, and one shouldn’t push it. We often hear that there are no free lunches. It’s high time we do our bit in any situation/relationship and make it count.

I get calls from some who don’t call in years, asking me for a draft or template of a legal document. Making such documents is my profession and livelihood. If I start distributing them free of cost, who will pay my bills? Google is there for free information though for specialised downloads there is a charge. It freaks me how these people who don’t even wish Happy New Year call for such things and that too in a very matter of fact manner.

One has many means of reciprocation. It doesn’t have to be tit for tat. But some sort of equation should be maintained. I can really go out of the way for some people because they do the same for me. But can others who don’t do a thing out of their comfort zone expect or ask for the same.

When it comes to reciprocity, you have to recognise the importance of it. We have a concept called “energy exchange”. When you give money, you get a product or service; similarly in energy exchange we must give back to those that give to us and vice versa. If you are doing a lot for those that neither fully appreciate nor help and make your life easier, perhaps you need to question your pattern and change it.

It is indeed sad that one has to change the goodness in one’s heart, because one wants to stop being used. We have to understand that while it is nice to be good to others, we have to be good to ourselves. We need to respect our time and effort. If others don’t, so be it. The free party is over.

I completely love this quote of Rob Hill Sr: “Flames burn out, infatuation dies down, butterflies fade. And you can’t control any of that. But you can control what you choose to settle for. Reciprocity is everything, so if you aren’t getting out what you put in, you’re selling yourself short. When it’s real, everything is mutual.”

I have friends who won’t let me pay at their restaurant or parlour. I find ways of reciprocating and showing my appreciation to them. That’s how one can be friends for decades. No one is a fool. Let’s not mistake other’s niceness for their naivety. They are not naïve, trust me. I can see when I am being used. So can the others. It’s just that everyone has their own threshold.

In accounts we have a balance sheet, so is the case in life. Let’s try and do our best to balance what we give and what we take. Then you are truly living a balanced life.

In fact, I have noticed how important reciprocity is in our virtual life. Social Media has shown us you pat my back, I pat yours. There are some people who are always commenting on our posts and we are commenting on (complimenting) their posts. We may be active on social media or maybe not. So, reciprocating there is not a huge factor, it’s a virtual one. But the life we are living is real.

As we grow older, we have more responsibilities, but a genuine person will always find time for those most important to them. It’s not right for someone to only see or speak to you when it’s most convenient for them. Growing close and drifting apart is a part of life and a lack of effort can be the cause.

Being a legal professional, this quote by Dr Linnaya Graf resonates with me so much: “A ‘relationship’ includes the verb ‘reciprocal’ in the contract, if there is no reciprocation of your feelings, actions, and intentions, then it’s either stalking or victimisation, not a relationship.”

Shilpa Bhasin Mehra is a legal consultant based in Dubai and the founder of SBM Consultancy (formerly Legal Connect).

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