A Favor with Strings Attached?
Michael P. Maslanka, examining what to say when doing a favor for someone, notes Robert Cialdini's advice to say, "I know you'd do the same for me." The idea is to set the foundation for a favor that will someday be done for you. Guy Kawasaki thinks that response is enchanting.
I have used that expression at various times when it seemed appropriate, but as a general rule would urge some caution. Rather than being enchanting, the underlying message is: "I'm keeping score and this wasn't just done out of the kindness of my heart but instead is performed in the full expectation of reciprocity." It becomes less of a favor than an implied quid pro quo.
I may be the odd man out here, but I do favors for people without the slightest expectation that they will reciprocate. It's a favor, not a deal, and I try very hard not to keep score. Am I aware of the "favor system?" Sure, but such expectations can poison personal relationships. Keeping score is a great way to guarantee disappointment in others and besides, who's to say if one favor is equal to another?
The scorekeeper is seldom objective.