Who first said, “There is no such thing as a free lunch”?
How often do we repeat a well-known quote without knowing who first said it?
Most of us never even wonder!
“We were in the Lake District last week and visited Brantwood near Coniston, the home of John Ruskin. John Ruskin is famous for many things as a 19th Century industrialist and philanthropist. For me I like his quote, “There is no such thing as a free lunch”, which I heard many years ago.The quote has stuck with me in my business dealings and my negotiations ever since. Nothing is free, there is a cost to everything and whatever appears free will be in the package. One of the reasons that giving things to people, whether they are a gift or throwing items in to sweeten a deal is; they create an obligation in the mind of the recipient, that they owe you something back.
In the psychology of influence, giving items or time unconditionally, for no charge is called reciprocity. People use reciprocity to create obligations. Manipulative people do it all the time – beware, if it “doesn’t smell right”, it probably isn’t right. After all – if it is too good to be true – it probably is too good to be true.
The nicest way for us to use reciprocity, is to be the first person to buy the coffee or the drinks. Alternatively just put yourself out for the customer – many people never think to do that.
When I worked in banking often some of the clients used to give gifts at Christmas to their bank manager. The proper thing for the manager to do was to write back to the client thanking them for the gift and saying it would be distributed amongst the staff. This was as long as the item was only a small gift and something that could not be described as a bribe. (We now have the bribery Act 2011, thank goodness). If the gift was large, like I received a couple of times, the only thing to do was to return it immediately and say “We are not allowed to take gifts, thank you; but those are the rules”. This also told me something about the integrity of the customer!!!
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