Remember that last move you had? You know, the one in which you asked friends for help and offered them $20 to help move that huge sectional couch of yours? Well, I am here to tell you that we should stop doing that. You would think in our society in which we wish to help each other that it would be a benefit to compensate for our time and energy. So, let’s explore why it’s such a bad idea.
Devaluing the Relationship
Believe it or not, plenty of people feel like their sense of worth comes into play when someone wishes to compensate them for a favor. They begin to question whether they are being paid enough. And let’s be honest here, a large portion of us don’t feel we earn what we are worth income-wise. It also is a potential detraction in the relationship, that one must get something out of the other person for doing a favor. Selfless acts amongst family, friends, and partners are one of the cornerstones of building a healthy relationship. We show each other love by being there in times of need, without any expectation of something in return.
Research has also shown that people are motivated to do things socially rather than for financial gain. Behavioral economist Dan Ariely conducted a study amongst his college-aged students, posing a scenario in which students could take $10 to move a couch or do it as a favor. Overwhelmingly, he found that most chose to do it as a favor. The thought process began to unravel the motives of payment. Were they worth just $10 for their time and effort? Were they being underpaid? Is it worth the time and effort?
Building a Reputation
For many people, they do favors because of the benefits of being known as a kind and generous individual. For small businesses, the fact that they are engaged in their community is one of the best things in the world. One of our local ice cream shops is well-known for being very supportive of the community. They often host small local bands and many fundraisers for homeless shelters and animal sanctuaries. The owner even participates in an annual fundraiser walk for a local rape crisis center. Because of the reputation that they have built around being so supportive, their business continuously grows. As humans, we tend to support those businesses owned by supportive people.
Pay it Forward
Plenty of people employ acts of paying it forward. For some, it’s just because it feels good to know they have done a good deed for another person. Studies show that people who engage in helping others with favors have a better sense of self and well-being. And how about folks who have suffered themselves? Many people who have come out of very trying times (losing a job, losing a home, etc.) also are more likely to give back after experiencing the love and kindness of others who helped them get back on their feet. Many non-profit organizations are built up around this very idea. When we experience love and kindness, it’s only natural to want to share it.
Pay Me the Money
Some of you will read this and argue that you wish to be compensated. To explore why that may be, I took to my personal Facebook account and asked if people would rather do the favor without compensation or with. The voting system I created indicated that all who voted would do the favor without compensation (at the time I am writing this). In the comments, it got more interesting. The comments reflected a split in which some people did advocate for some compensation, while others didn’t. My friend Gray had this to say, “It depends. I’ve been poor a long time and occasionally the financial burden of a favor requires compensation. I try not to, though.”
And another offered up the opinion that he likes to compensate people who he knows needs the money. It is certainly acceptable and appropriate to help financially when we can as a loving and kind act in these situations. Expressions of love and kindness come in many forms and doing favors is just one of them. However, while I am advocating that we stop compensating each other for acts of love and kindness, it’s important to avoid becoming a doormat. Many people don’t want to be used. Healthy relationships are ones where favors are exchanged and people are supporting each other, rather than one individual providing all of the support all the time.