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Insights: Fair Exchange
October 07, 2009

Fair Exchange

This week, Bill talks about the concept of fair exchange and shares his view that people who deliberately live out of exchange have a mentality of scarcity, rather than abundance

"Though force can protect in emergency, only justice, fairness, consideration and co-operation can finally lead men to the dawn of eternal peace."

- Dwight D Eisenhower

We all have 'hot buttons' – you know, the buttons that, when pressed, get us all steamed up with frustration, anger, even rage!

One of my personal hot buttons

Well, one of mine is labeled 'unfair exchange'.

I want to know that when I am interacting or transacting with someone, there is going to be a fair, open and transparent exchange between us, leaving us both happy.

I feel really disappointed when someone thinks they can take advantage of me – and I try to go out of my way to ensure that I don't leave other people feeling that way when they interact with me.

Strangely enough, it's not so much the crooks and con artists that get to me.

Of course, I loathe people that choose to earn a parasitic living by stealing from - rather than contributing to - society. But life being life, one has to factor the sad inevitability of the existence of the criminal element.

No, my hot button gets pressed by regular folks who operate on the right side of the law. You know, the type of people who smile, pretending to be your friend, all the while doing everything they can to ensure that they get one up on you in their silly game of 'unfair exchange'.

UNfair exchange - some examples

In my experience, here are some fairly typical examples:

  • 'Friends' who join you for dinner at a restaurant, eat and drink more than their fair share and then leave before the bill arrives, pushing a few folded notes into your palm, with a hurried "got to go, see you soon" knowing full well that the amount they've contributed falls well short of what's required from them.

  • Builders who quote on a project, get part the way through, persuade you to make a lump sum payment for further materials or such like - and then disappear without trace leaving you without 80% of the money you budgeted and only 40% of the job completed.

  • People who perpetually accept the generosity of others without ever making the effort to return the compliment in whatever way they can best manage.

  • 'Friends' who arrive at a 'bring and braai' event together with their extended family, sporting the latest cooler box in which they have 'crammed' two pieces of chicken, a skinny chop and three stale bread rolls.

  • People who take advantage of domestic workers or labourers, expecting them to go well beyond what would normally be expected of them but without thinking to offer them fair reward for the extra work.

  • The office boss who spends the best part of the working year lauding you for your superior contribution to the company and then offers you some meaningless excuse as to why he/she has had to grant you a below-average annual increase or no increase, when they know full well that their own reward is well above average.

I could go on and on... but you know what I mean.

Win-lose artists

The people I'm talking about are win-lose artists. They specialize in treating every transaction or event, as a personal challenge to see whether they can gain something, no matter how petty, at the expense of someone else.

Sometimes it's quite ludicrous what lengths people will go to, to feel that they have 'gone one up' on you.

Small-mindedness - one more whine!

I remember, in England a few years ago, uncorking a bottle of red wine that I had been given as a gift by a 'friend' to whom we had extended a social invitation. The wine had been proudly presented to me at the time, as an expensive French wine that was supposed to be something of a collector's item. Imagine my surprise, a year or so later when I opened it to find a cork that appeared to emanate from very modest vineyard, nowhere near France. On closer scrutiny, I noticed the label was peeling off - and lo and behold, as I lifted the corner, the original label of the bottle of inexpensive East European 'plonk' was suddenly legible.

I suppose it could have passed as a joke - only we didn't know the people well enough for that to have been likely.

The point I want to make with all these examples is how small-minded some people can be. It's as if they carry around a little notebook, notching up points every time they find themselves on the winning side of an unfair exchange, somehow believing that one day they'll be able to trade in the points for a sack load of money.

OK, you've had enough of my rant and you're probably starting to wonder what happened to the positive message in this week's missive!

What about FAIR exchange

So, enough about UNfair exchange. What about fair exchange?

Fair exchange is about a healthy balance between give and take. It's about ensuring that all parties to a transaction or other interaction involving give and take (and, frankly, that means most) feel satisfied that they have received good value for what they have given.

At New Insights we teach the principle of fair exchange to our trainee coaches, primarily for three reasons:

- We want to be certain that they appreciate the concept and that they go to great lengths to ensure that their clients get good value for their services.

- We want our coaches to understand that they should never undervalue themselves or the service that they offer.

- We know that when two parties are in a win-win relationship, they will go to great lengths to protect, extend and expand that relationship - so it's good for them, good for business and good for society.

At the heart of fair exchange

At the heart of the principle of fair exchange is a principle that all the great teachers on this planet have attempted to impart to us.

Treat others the way you would like them to treat you.

Scarcity vs Abundance mentality

And, if you ever find yourself having difficulty applying this mantra, dig a bit and my bet is you'll find you have a 'scarcity' mentality. In other words, you have a deeply ingrained belief that 'there is only so much to go around' (whether that be money, food, good health, happiness or whatever).

I'm going to write about overcoming the scarcity mentality in a future newsletter. Rest assured though, that scarcity is all in the mind. If you choose to believe that there is only so much to go around, then that's what your life will reflect - scarcity.

The opposite of scarcity is abundance. When you have an abundance mentality, you start to attract everything you need. You give freely in the knowledge that what goes out comes back. You start to live a life characterised by fair exchange, others become influenced to respond accordingly - and the world becomes a better place!

Are you cut out to be a life coach?

Perhaps the concept of fair exchange comes naturally to you. Perhaps you have an abundance mentality and feel the need to share the freedom and growth that it offers you, with others.

If you're a great believer in fair exchange, have a passion for people and for life in general - it's highly likely that you'd make a great life coach. If so, why not sign up for the New Insights Life Coach Training Programme. Start a new career in which fair exchange becomes part of your stock-in-trade!

Please feel free to contact me at any time.

With warm regards as always


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