Here are some things I have learned about reciprocity. As a review, reciprocity can happen when folks are in relationship with one another AND they have worked out respectful, reasonably safe and helpful ways of giving one another feedback. This feedback, in theory, can help all parties learn and grow. In reciprocal relationships either party is in a position to learn at all times.
To return to an earlier example. Perhaps I write something on our blog and someone I have a reciprocal relationship with reads it and says, “Wow, I don’t think Teresa loves Jesus.” In reciprocity, they come over to my house or office with a latte and say, “When I read your blog post, I thought to myself – I don’t think Teresa loves Jesus.”
This gives me the PRIVILEGE of saying, “Well, this is so great to hear. What did I say that gave you that impression?” And they tell me. And then they get the privilege of hearing my reasoning behind what I said and my thoughts on my love for Jesus. It’s a big win-win. The air is cleared. We move forward.
Now, there are some important principles to consider:
- It is not ok to tell someone else what they feel or think or believe. This is huge. So if my friend asks me if I love Jesus, and I say yes, my friend is free to tell me why I confused her with my blog post on that point, but she is NOT free to tell me I do not love Jesus. See the difference?
- This works best if there is trust and respect in a relationship. Honestly, I will have a different response depending on who brings the feedback. If my son tells me I do not love Jesus, seeing as how we work together and live as a close knit family – Geez, I am going to be inclined to believe him! And then I, being a person who wants to love Jesus with all my heart, mind, soul and strength, will ask for help in learning how to love Jesus more. See how that works? He has CREDIBILITY.
- Even if someone does not have a large deposit of trust in my relationship bank gives me unsolicited feedback (because I won’t go asking for feedback from someone I fundamentally do not trust, because that would just be silly), I can still treat them with respect. I will probably respond quite differently to the feedback, but my core values invite me to treat everyone respectfully. Make sense?
How do these ideas impact the way you relate to others? Any insights?