Should You Get A Return On Your Investment When You Do A Favor?




Article by Wendy McCance

When I was young, I learned that there were two types of people.  There are those who give willingly just because they want to be supportive, helpful or do something nice. These are the people who put good energy out into the world because that’s how they want the world to be.  People giving just because it makes them feel good.

The other side of the coin is that there are people who don’t know how to do something without an expectation that they will receive something in return.  It’s not that some deal was made where they do something for you and you return the favor.  No, these people expect that this is the way the world operates.  If they go out of their way, you must do the same.  It’s just a fact of life in their mind.

When I was young, my mom was that greedy second type of person.  If I asked if I could be driven to a friend’s house (for example), I would hear about it for at least a full week.  If my mom asked me to do anything for her, I wasn’t allowed to say no or even say I can help out in a little while.  It didn’t matter what I might be doing at the time of the request, I had to jump up and do whatever was asked of me.

What made me so repulsed by these requests was that each time a request was made, the fact that I had been taken to a friend’s home would be brought up.  My mom would say, “I went out of my way for you so you need to do (whatever was being requested) for me.  If you don’t get up right now and do (whatever it was) I won’t do you anymore favors or take you to your friend’s home the next time you ask.”  I do need to mention that I did what was expected of me growing up.  If my parents told me to do something, I did it.  The exception was this issue of presumption based on favors.  I just couldn’t deal with that feeling of being controlled.

After awhile I felt that my mom never did anything because she was my mom taking care of her kids, but because she was tallying favors and deciding how to use them to her advantage.

I stopped asking for anything.  If I wanted to go to a friend’s home, I would walk or ride my bike.  If the weather was too bad to do either, I just wouldn’t go.  I avoided asking my mom for any help no matter how big or small.  It felt evil knowing that any nice thing my mom might do for me came with strings attached–always!

After some time, my mom got uncomfortable not getting requests from me and began going out of her way to do nice things.  I fell for it thinking my mom was showing me she cared.  Well, as soon as I accepted something nice, the pattern began again.  I would point out that I hadn’t requested anything and that I thought she was just offering (whatever she offered) just to be nice.  My mom would say. “I did something nice for you so why can’t you do something nice for me?”  It killed me.  I wanted to show my mom I cared.  I would have random spurts of going out of my way with a grand gesture to show my appreciation.  I hoped life with my mom would be about a family doing nice things for each other just because.  I even talked with her about it. She just didn’t get it and the strings attached way of life continued.

As an adult, I am repelled by people who use this formula.  Those who don’t know how to do anything nice without expecting reimbursement.  I didn’t ask for those people to do anything for me and I am put off when it is pointed out with an assumption that I would do something for them in return.

This topic came to mind just the other day.  I received a retweet on Twitter for one of my blog articles.  I wrote back to the follower and thanked them for the nice gesture.  I got a tweet in return that had a link to that person’s own article with what felt like a demand that I retweet it.  I was not thrilled and ignored the request.  If the follower hadn’t retweeted my link, but had just simply said, hey I am trying to get the word out about my article could you help me out by retweeting this, I would have had a different reaction.  I guess it comes down to transparency.  I am much more willing to help when I get asked if I could help them out and why they are asking rather than that underhanded feeling you get when someone demonstrates that they went out of their way for you, so it is required that you to do the same.

I see this type of request all the time on social media.  People will tell me to go to their Facebook page and like them.  They will say if I do, they will like my page as well.  I got and email through LinkedIn after participating and sharing ideas with another group member to help them set up their WordPress site.  I wrote back with a few links to articles that would help them go through the steps.  I also wrote that if they got stuck, I would try to answer any question they might have.  What I got in return was a demand from the person stating that they were sure I had enough time to help them set up their site and so I would help them.  It was a bold thing for them to write and rather offensive.  I stopped communication with them.

I know that this is the way of the world.  Different people see things from different angles.  I’m sure there will be people who read this post and think I am overly sensitive.  I’m sure many will feel that there is nothing wrong with exchanging a favor when you had never agreed to the favor exchange.  You might even say, it’s just business.  People helping people to reach their goals.  I understand supporting each other in your given careers.  I just think there is a way to help one another without the self-centeredness that accompanies so many requests.

I think that being hidden behind the web has brought out that side in more people where there is a feeling of entitlement and an attitude of what are you going to do for me?

Personally, I’m not fond of that way of thinking and won’t join in to the pushing and pulling of people climbing over each other with demands and big egos.  Nope, I will stick to doing nice things just because with no expectation of anything in return.  I think it’s a happier, more fulfilling way to live.

Wendy McCance

Wendy McCance is a Michigan based freelance writer and social media consultant. Wendy has gained attention as the founder of the popular blog Searching for the Happiness which can be viewed in 9 local papers online, including the Oakland Press. The combination of writing skills and social media knowledge is what makes Wendy such a powerhouse to work with. Stay tuned for opportunities to advertise, guest post and as always, have your questions answered.

To contact Wendy McCance about a writing or social media assignment, interview or speaking engagement, please email her at:
Wendy McCance

Latest posts by Wendy McCance (see all)

4 thoughts on “Should You Get A Return On Your Investment When You Do A Favor?

  1. We try to be upfront about exchanges like that with our kids. And it is more to get them to think about their actions instead of just taking advantage of people.

    But on the other side of that coin we also make it a point not to make this about love and such. It is always such a huge balancing act with the kids. We strive to keep the acts of service guilt free. Maybe that is the difference though. For certain favors we make it contingent on their attitudes and getting their work around the house done. They know the deal going into it.

    But I do the same thing outside the home too. I share and give with no expectaations. If I am looking for a deal I make that known at the start. I don’t think I have ever done something and then slipped in an expected return for the favor without the other party knowing that was what was intended to begin with.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience Jon. I think it’s great that you are so aware of what you want to teach your kids and how you go about it. You’re right, it all comes down to communicating up front about expectations if there are any.

  2. Good topic, I admit, I am a little bit of all three types of people both consciously and unconsciously at times. But, I do love to give when it is possible in a genuine way and receive when it is warranted in a positive and genuine way in that order. I think you know what I mean, Wendy…

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.