The Art of Give and Take
Know the meaning of positive reciprocity
There is an African philosophy called “ubuntu”. Translated directly from the Zulu language, which means "humanity". It means more deeply, "My existence is because of your existence." - a living belief that we as humans are judged by our compassion and kindness towards others. That our own well-being is closely linked to the well-being of others. The presence of "ubuntu" has been seen all over the world, and we more commonly know it as a "give and take" practice.
So what is “give and take”?
Give and take is basically an investment or a system similar to an emotional bank account where both parties can make deposits and withdrawals. When faced with a positive or negative balance, the balance becomes more complex, for example when someone only gives or only takes often, so that it can lead to potential "debt". It can also be affected by insincere giving, because it is forced or given with a heavy heart or giving with a purpose, or also when someone is ungrateful or unwilling to receive.
Most people are already accustomed to repaying favors and good deeds, but interestingly, there are also many people who do not understand the true meaning and way of giving back — especially when it comes to what we do to people we love.
Give and take are important mechanisms underlying all types of relationships for nurturing and cultivating trust, cooperation, respect, and self-esteem. By returning love gestures to our loved ones, feelings of love will be strengthened as both invest in each other's well-being, and work together to build a solid future.
The thing that must be considered is the negative side that can cause pettiness. One partner may be more calculative than the other, recording and accounting for the things they have done for the other person, and becoming resentful or suffering when efforts are not properly reciprocated. It is more a matter of awareness and self-reflection. One needs to reassess where this feeling of unfair treatment comes from, rather than projecting or burdening the partner with such expectations. No one can read your mind but yourself, remember that. The golden rule is to always do to others what we would like others to do to us.
Here are nine ways to successfully give and take well in any relationship:
1. Focus on two-way open conversation
Discussing with someone, especially a loved one, is not just about exchanging information. We talk to each other to share our feelings, find relief, and reassure ourselves when we face problems.
A common mistake we tend to make is when we talk about ourselves and not being an active listener — so be careful when hearing what other people have to say, listen like we really care and are concerned. When you talk about your problem, also offer the other person a chance to talk — perhaps they're trying to empathize or have a solution that works for you — rather than interrupting the conversation and refocusing right away on what you have to say.
Listening is a skill that is often underestimated even though few people can do it properly and correctly. When we listen well, we can pay more attention to our internal dialogue and understand and be more responsive to what we hear.
2. Return the favor
There are people who are natural givers who always find happiness and satisfaction in giving time, energy, and even physical help to others. While this may not be a gift you didn't expect or ask for, and even if you're not the type to give, it's a good idea to consciously accept and appreciate the kindness, and return it whenever you can.
Friendship, relationship or partnership works best when the business is mutually beneficial. When the giving is one-sided, where one makes all the effort and the other just takes, the relationship will be unstable, unbalanced and unsatisfactory on either side of you whether the giver or the recipient.
3. Positive praise
Praise each other actively. The important thing here is to give rewards whenever needed. In psychology, there is a study of motivation in human behavior called Maslow's hierarchy of needs. At the top of this pyramid of five levels of human need is self-actualization, where a person strives to reach their full potential, to become the best that they can be. And often, people thrive on being noticed, praised, and encouraged.
So, if your partner does something good, praise it. If your partner isn't doing as well as they expected, praise their efforts and achievements so far — this will encourage them not to give up and try even harder.
4. Accept the flaws
Nobody is perfect, that's for sure. But some people can react more negatively to their partner's mistakes than others. This could stem from deeper personal problems, not being able to control anger, or projected self-expectations on others.
When you're angry that your partner left the house in such a mess, think otherwise, maybe you didn't live up to their expectations either. So, is the fight worth it? Most of the answers are no.
5. Give each other space
Being in a relationship doesn't mean having to be together for 24 hours. Even couples who have been married for a long time need some space and time to themselves. We shouldn't insist on being with our partner all the time but instead focus on quality time, rather than quantity — and understanding that people can like different things and they can also enjoy and have different hobbies than other people. You don't always have to do things together, even when you're at home, there's nothing wrong with relaxing while watching your favorite movie. This will definitely help your relationship.
6. Understand the language of love
We expect our partners to love us the same way we love them. This results in unrealistic expectations that are sure to leave us feeling unsatisfied or unfulfilled. Often, we subconsciously project our unmet needs onto our partner, imposing our own expectations or guilt. We tend to react to our own problems and emotions rather than see the genuine efforts of our partners expressing affection in their own way.
When giving, remember to give in the way the other person needs, not in our own way. Therefore, we need to take the first step of identifying our love language, and make a conscious effort to give and receive equally.
7. Think (T.H.I.N.K) before acting
Your words must have meaning, just as promises must be kept, and apologies must be expressed sincerely from the heart — with a view to making amends and changing for the better. So before speaking, in any situation, ask yourself: Is this true? Is this helpful? Will I inspire? Is this necessary? Am I being nice? This T.H.I.N.K strategy works very well when you are faced with doubts, tired of making decisions, feeling uncertain, unsure which path to take. For example, when you see or experience something unpleasant and feel the need to comment on social media. Uploading something online is a pseudo-gratification that can vent your frustration, when in fact, it can make things worse and not lessen an already existing emotional burden.
8. Treat each other with respect and kindness
These are basic things, but we need to be reminded often. Respect and kindness are the foundation of a strong, understanding relationship that offers both parties an equal opportunity to let go of each other's egos. Relationships should make us feel supported, valued and loved, and not emotionally, physically or mentally exhausting. By creating a safe space for your partner, you will eventually create a safe space for yourself.
9. Learn to help yourself
You can't help others if you can't help yourself. The key is to identify the pain or disappointment that is causing the hurt. That way, you can find ways to deal with and heal from this emotional response. Acknowledge that your feelings are valid and do the same for your partner's feelings.