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No Such Thing As Simple Favors: Know Who You Owe!

Dec 24, 2007
Business and society glides along if for no other reason then professionals have come to a common understanding that we must "scratch each other backs" if there is going to be any semblance of normalcy. This is one of the major reasons that the upper class has the opportunity to rub elbows, engage in business deals and hang out a private clubs. These groups of elitists have learned that their individual strength lies in their abilities to help each other maintain and increase their wealth.

People often do favors for each other and help each other because it is in their own self-interest to do so. They figure that if they do a favor for someone that favor will be returned at a latter date (Meskill, 2007). A problem results when favors are given and not returned among professionals. A type of resentment sets in that merits punishment.

The term altruism is used to describe the concept of "tit for tat" in the professional and elitist world (Trivers, 1971). Altruism is a term that basically means people do things in their own self-interest. This concept permeates throughout the entire business world and down to the populace. If people were not doing things in their own best interest who would they be doing them for?

There are also differences in social class as to who helps whom. There has been a general distancing of the upper half of society from the lower half of society and this makes the upper half increasing less likely to help the lower classes (George, 2006). Part of the reason is that the lower class doesn't have any ability to return favors to the upper class. There is no altruistic interest in the situation.

You might also be surprised that there are times when a person who receives a favor refuses to return the favor. In such cases it is not uncommon to have a form of punishment put in place. This form of punishment can come from removing of social influence, social rejection, undermining and even damaging of ones character. People who give favors expect them to be returned and failure to comply means more then simply no more favors.

Rationally, we may know that punishing another does not remedy the immediate problem or slight but the emotional reaction has important significance (Frank, 1988). The emotional response helps us keep each other in line. When we receive a favor from someone and then shirk returning that favor when called we always risk damaging ourselves. This potential fear of damage helps keep everyone in line.

Therefore, there is no such thing as a simple favor. Favors are calculable and bankable in the sense that there is both a return for these favors and that these favors can be saved, stored and spent as political capital. Without reasonable assurances that favors would be return it is possible that the social fabric of society may be torn beyond repair.

Frank, R. (1988). Passions with Reason. New York: W.W. Norton.
George, D. (2006). Social class and social identity. Review of Social Economy, 64 (4).
Meskill, D. (2007). Self-interest properly felt. Critical Review, 19 (1).
Trivers, R (1971). The evolution of reciprocal altruism. Quarterly Review of Biology, 46.
About the Author
Murad Ali is a 3-time published author, a hr professional, a business professor and runs a number of sites. http://www.article-agent.org helps businesses get more traffic, http://www.article-agent.net helps authors get exposure and http://www.thenewbusinessworld.blogspot.com offers articles
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