Persuasion, manipulation or trust?

My friend thought it was a brilliant display of leadership. I thought it was manipulation. My friend thought it was a remarkable show of trust. I thought it was a disappointing violation of trust.

Here’s what happend. A pastor spoke about a charity he was supporting, and when everyone was expecting to get hit up for contributions, he handed out envelopes with cash instead. Between $20 and $150 in each. And he challenged the parishioners to use the cash to make more money for the cause.

He was using the persuasion principle of reciprocity. It’s a well-known principle of persuasion. When people receive something, they want to give back.

But if you give something wth an expectation of getting, it’s not really a gift. I believe in the principle of reciprocity, but not as a direct transaction. When someone freely gives to me, I feel a desire to give back. But when someone gives to me with an expectation, I feel worked. 

Now, if there is plenty of room to decline, it’s another story. But when the gift is unsolicited and the agreement is assumed, I don’t care how worthwhile the charity is. It’s manipulation. Giving to get always is. 

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