One-way Value Exchange


Amidst the general correspondence in your inbox, you may receive the occasional email from someone you vaguely know.  The email is thinly guised with lines of flattery to ‘woo’ you into what they are about to ask of you. Salespeople use this approach when they decide they don’t need to engage with you personally. Now the onus is on you to  decide whether you’re about to strengthen a blossoming relationship or be heavily inconvenienced.

You may struggle to remain objective as they ask for your help without offering anything substantial in return, not even a note of thanks. They don’t check in on you to see how you are and unless they want something from you, you don’t hear a peep from them. It’s at this point where you should be making the call on whether you help them or not.

Some lack enough willpower to put themselves first in these situations and see emails like this as an opportunity to help regardless of the outcome.  The pragmatic part of our brain is gently restrained and our charitable tendency kicks in despite knowing full well that this will be another a one-sided exchange of value. But why kid ourselves?

From vendors to end-users, there are plenty of go-giving people in our industry that underpin our professional networks and communities. The only snag is that it often gets overlooked by those less connected with the outcomes of this goodwill. When those on the outside try to tap existing communities and partner programmes, they find they simply can’t relate causing a fracture that the go-givers have to wade back in and fix.

At every level, it’s important to ensure a value exchange exists to ensure the survival of goodwill and a renewed strength in our communities. Where an individual is at a disadvantage from an engagement, they may claim a level of justice for themselves by highlighting their negative experience to others. It’s a human tendency to do this and it’s one we see in spades in customer service – a dissatisfied client is likely to tell at least nine other people about the sub-standard service they received. In this case, the integrity of the professional is at risk and the outcomes can be hard to manage.

To stop this happening in the future, think about this:

  • Is the requester a friend that you assist no matter what because you have more than one layer of understanding with them?
  • Are they someone who you already work with and by helping them will benefit you and your business in the future?
  • Do you know this person will recognise the value of your relationship and help in some way in the future?

There are very few people in the world who won’t do something for nothing, even if it is for the warm fuzzy feeling you get by helping another. The reality is that establishing an exchange of value is critical to the survival of goodwill in our channel. If it’s unrequited it becomes siloed and disconnected. Right-brain thinkers are great at doing this; they strip away old business thinking and take it back to basics. It worked when we were children, so why can’t we do it as adults?

Respect must be earned and can be a timely process. If you respect someone, you’re more likely to want to associate yourself with them and find ways to connect and help them. It’s a two-way motorway and not an unmarked one-way street. The exchange of value allows those involved to learn and grow from the experience – it’s a powerful talent to master and harks back to the saying ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know‘.

Our time is much better spent when we are rewarded for our efforts and it makes us more valuable to the next person who asks us for help.

Don’t waste your time setting yourself up to be bruised and used. And, when you need the help of others, go out of your way to make those who help you feel appreciated.

Susanne Dansey is the Managing Director of Purple Cow Ideas Management – an organisation that facilitates a paradigm shift in the collaborative nature of the ICT Industry. You can follow her on Twitter and join the conversation on Facebook.

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2 thoughts on “One-way Value Exchange

  1. Susanne – fascinating article and very well written. Thanks for sharing! (There’s my “woo”, now for my question… 😉

    I’m intrigued to hear how you handle those requests for help from individuals who “fail” your 3-question test. How do you (politely) put yourself first?

    • Hey Ric,

      Thanks for the feedback – always appreciated.

      Those who ‘fail’ may do so for a number of reasons and I always am sure to remind myself that I will never know them all. With that in mind, it’s important to remain objective and still provide a positive experience whilst being fair to yourself and your IP.

      Pointing them in the right direction such as an online forum only takes a matter of minutes to do and you’re still helping them. You never know, they may turn out to be your biggest ally in the future.

      Never leave anyone with a bitter after-taste from interacting with you and remember that if you upset people on the way up, they may not help save you should you fall.

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