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A Good Relationship Is About Give and Take. Never Let It Be One-Sided

A Good Relationship Is About Give and Take. Never Let It Be One-Sided

We all know that relationships are about giving and making compromises, but even if we try to do our best, we end up being ignored, not feeling satisfied or appreciated, or not being able to keep the relationships strong.

What if I told you that the solution to understanding this and doing something about it lies in a psychological theory?

What is The Social Exchange Theory?

The Social Exchange Theory is an interesting term, used to describe the relationship between two people as an exchange process.

The give and take approach plays a big role, but so does our perception of how meaningful this is, what the deserve, and what we think we are investing in this.

According to experts [1], the theory

‘assumes that all human relationships are a matter of costs and rewards and people evaluate the worth of their relationship to make a rational decision of whether or not to progress.’

How Does The Theory Look Like in Real Life?

This doesn’t apply only to romantic relationships , though, but to every situation from life where 2 parties interact. And if you think about it, you’ve already seen this in action.

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If you don’t feel like your efforts at work are noticed, you might start thinking about making it clear that you can easily leave and find a new job.

Investing more time in choosing a present for a friend, be it with or without an occasion, will unconsciously make you expect him to react in a certain way. But when he or she just says ‘Thanks.’ and continues to do something else, you’ll end up disappointed. That’s when you might consider the fact that this friendship isn’t worth the investment of your time and energy, and you should see this person less often so that you don’t feel like that again.

These are just simple examples of how the social exchange theory works.

But you might be asking, why does this happen, and how exactly?

Well, here’s how the process looks like for us, regardless of who the other person is:

It begins with what we think we deserve.

If you’ve always had bad relationships, you won’t really expect to be treated with respect by new people either, so that will make you put up with those who don’t deserve your attention. But because you’ve seen plenty of this in the past and are okay with it now, you won’t notice it and will think this is the best you can get;

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Calculating the possible outcomes

Leaving your job with confidence would only be possible if you feel sure that you’ll find something else, and as good, soon. If not, if you’ll have a much lower salary at the new place, or if it’s far away from your home, you might decide to stay where you are now and accept that it’s the best you can get at this moment;

Your definition of fairness

In the end of the day, all that matters is what you think is fair. Depending on how we define this, we create a level of comparison in our heads and evaluate all our interactions with other people based on this. In some cases you’ll give more, in others you’ll expect to get more out of the relationship.

All these combined are how the social exchange theory works.

It’s all about finding the balance between what we give and what we receive. Unfortunately, the balance in all areas of life is usually the hardest thing to achieve. Especially when talking about social life, when other people are involved and we rarely know what’s going on in their heads.

But the importance of this psychological set of ideas is undeniable. Once we truly grasp its meaning and how it happens, we’ll be more conscious when deciding whether or not we should keep someone in our lives.

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Now that we’ve defined the theory and know why it matters, let’s see how we can use it to our advantage and actually form better relationships.

Steps to Take to Improve Our Relationships

1. Think before you act, and before you ask.

That’s a great mindset shift you can make if you want to never feel like you’re giving more where it’s not appreciated , and to make sure you’re investing as much as the other person in this.

Meaning, before doing a favor, rationalize. Think if that person would do the same for you. Only this way can you see when it’s unreasonable and it’s time for you to say ‘no’ and set some boundaries. Otherwise, people will start using you,

The opposite is also true.

When you’re about to ask for something (even if it’s for someone to spend more time with you, give you something, share stuff about his life, or else), think if you’ve given him the same.

This will lead to knowing what type of exchange there is in each relationship in your life, and where you should focus on giving more.

2. Speak up. Talk to them. It shows that you really care.

When someone isn’t treating you the way you think you deserve, talk to them . Say it directly. This will save you both time and unpleasant emotions in the future.

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That might also help him realize his mistake and encourage an eagerness to change. If not, if he doesn’t seem impressed in any way or bothered by that, you’ll know you were right about your feelings and don’t need to keep seeing him.

To make sure you aren’t the one taking more out of a relationship, ask if the other person feels okay around you every now and then. This shows that you care, leaves room for improvement, and can be the game-changer in whether or not a relationship strengthens and lasts longer.

3. Be present.

Thinking about what has been before, having regrets about letting someone get close to you too soon, or wondering what could be different, is a waste of time.

The best thing you can do, that’s great for both of you and anyone else involved, is to practice mindfulness . That means being present and focusing on what’s going on now. Saying things out loud, being here and enjoying other people’s company, and taking action if anything needs to be changed.

Over to you now.

What can you do today to improve your relationships, using what you just learned about the social exchange theory?

Reference

[1] Academia.edu: Social Exchange Theory

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Last Updated on May 7, 2019

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Work in any competitive field long enough, and you’re bound to run into a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s a powerful image. A shepherd watches over his flock to protect them from harm. He’d chase away any predator that tried to make its way into the flock. A clever wolf wearing the skin of a sheep as a disguise can sneak by the vigilant shepherd and get into the herd undetected.

The story isn’t just a colorful description–it’s a warning to all of us to beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing. They may seem innocent, but they have ulterior motives. They’ll use different tactics to camouflage their intentions.

The person who is kind to you, but undercuts you when you aren’t around is a wolf in disguise. A wolf in sheep’s clothing might pick your brain for ideas and then pass them off as their own to get a promotion. They’re always looking out for themselves at the expense of everyone around them.

Wearing a Disguise Has Its Advantages

People don’t go out of their way to manipulate others unless they’re getting something out of it. Hiding their intentions gives wolves the chance to manipulate other people to advance their own agenda. They know that what they’re trying to do wouldn’t be popular, or it might cause struggle if they presented themselves honestly.

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    They’ll be able to do what they want with less interference if they put on an act. By the time people figure out their true motives, the wolf has what it wants.

    Signs That Someone Is a Wolf in Disguise

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        1. They live to take power instead of empowering others. A wolf uses people as stepping stones to get the things that they want. They don’t care what happens to anyone else.[1] A wolf at work might make you look bad during a presentation to make themselves look amazing in front of the boss.
        2. Wolves seem sweet on the outside, but they’ll show you their teeth. If wolves revealed their true identity, people wouldn’t associate with them. They develop a friendly or kind persona, but they can’t keep up the act 24/7. Eventually, they’ll reveal their aggressive tendencies. A wealthy person who likes to break the law may make sizable charitable donations to convince people that they are kind and thoughtful. These donations largely keep them out of trouble, but if someone calls them out, they destroy that person’s reputation to stifle the criticism.
        3. They manipulate through emotions to get what they want. Wolves know that they can get ahead by appealing to your emotions. They find out what you want and need, and they give you just enough to keep you quiet and compliant. Imagine that your boss is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and you want to ask for a vacation. She might try to play on your guilt and feelings of insecurity to get you to skip vacation or take fewer days off.
        4. A wolf will charm you first. Wolves are experts at manipulating the people around them. They appear interested in whatever you’re doing, and you’ll get the impression that they care. After they get you where they want you, they do just enough to keep you on the hook. This is the coworker who may start out being your friend, but they end up dumping responsibility onto you. When they see that you are growing frustrated, they’ll surprise you with something to charm you some more. Then, they’ll continue to do whatever they want.
        5. Their stories are full of holes.  Calling a wolf out is the surest way to make them squirm. When this person tries to come up with a story, it won’t make much sense because they are improvising.[2] The classic example of this is the significant other that you suspect has cheated on you. When you ask them why they came home so late, they’ll either become upset with you, or they’ll make up a weak explanation.

        How to Spot a Wolf

          Know What’s Real So You Can Spot the Phony

          Do some homework so that you have as much of the story as possible before you work with them. Research how they respond in certain situations, or give them hypothetical problems to see how they respond.

          A job applicant might tell you that she’s always positive and thinks of herself as a team-player. That’s what every employer wants to hear. During the interview you ask applicants to work in groups to solve a problem to see how they handle the situation. The applicant “positive team-player” is bossy and negative. You’ve spotted the wolf.

          A wolf will tell you something that ultimately benefits them. Gather evidence that proves or disproves their position, and see what happens. Chances are, when you choose the side that supports their agenda, they’ll act like your best friend. If you disagree, they’ll become aggressive.

          Spotting a potential wolf–especially if you are one of the sheep–can present you with some challenges. If your gut tells you that a wolf is lurking among all the other sheep, pay attention, and make sure you take the next step.

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          Ask Questions, the More the Better

          There’s nothing wrong with asking questions to uncover the truth. The safety of everyone in your group is at risk. Since wolves often make up stories, you may be able to call them out when their tales lack details.

          When they state an opinion, ask “Why do you think that?” or “How do you know it’s like that?” They’ll have trouble coming up with enough information to pull off the lie.

          Since wolves are always pretending to be something they aren’t, they don’t usually have a clearly thought-out reason for what they say. In a debate, they won’t understand the root of an issue.

          They may also tell you what they think you want to hear, but when pressed for more information, they won’t have anything to add. Their knowledge is superficial. No matter how much you try to encourage discussion, they will not be able to carry on a conversation about the subject.

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          Wolves Are Everywhere

          As much as we want to believe that everyone has the best intentions, it isn’t always the case. Some people only do things to benefit themselves, and they don’t care who they hurt in the process.

          Wolves in sheep’s clothing can be found in almost every setting. You can’t get rid of them, but if you can spot them, you can avoid falling into their traps.

          Reference

          [1] Association of Biblical Counselors: Three Ways to Spot a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
          [2] Power of Positivity: Beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing

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