Earn it or Spend it: Interpersonal Capital

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Want them to do things for you? Invest wisely!

There are two reasons people do things: a) because it avoids pain or b) because it is pleasing to do.  In trying to get other people to help you, to do things for you, amazingly most people experience and use the first reason vastly more often than the latter.  “Hurt them till they do what you want.”

Now, in a relationship of unequals (hierarchy, parent/child, boss/employee) either method will work – at least for a while.  In a relationship of equals (marriage, friendship, long-term committed partnership) method one (hurting ’em) is short-sighted and leads eventually to a collapse of the relationship.  You’ll end up living alone.

Making things pleasurable for them, is the only viable long-term solution. Doing things for each other must become a pleasure.  Learning how to feel generous and to “make your partner feel generous” are critically valuable skills.  Believing in finding Win-Win solutions, is the only way.

Expectations are a problem.  I believe, after age 8, no one is entitled to anything.  People must earn what they get.   Here are some reliable ideas I have found.

Earn it!

​Spend it!

  • $  -25 to –500 @ Don’t listen to them
  • $  -50 to -1000 @ Interrupt them
  • $  -50 to -2000 @ Push them
  • $  -300 to -5000 @ Invalidate them
  • $  -25 to -500 @ Active or passive lying
  • $  -50 to – 500 @ Try to persuade them
  • $ -100 to -1500 @ Argue with them
  • $ -200 to -7500 @ Threaten, get angry at, them
  • $ -100 to -2000 @ Pretend to agree

​Note: The phrase “Make them feel…” may seem a little odd, as elsewhere I have a OneLiner that says, “No one can make anyone feel anything.”  And That Oneliner is a good boundary rule.  However in this situation I am trying to make a point.

But we can speak of actions that are transpersonal.  The action is done by one person and the reaction (desirable or undesirable) occurs in another.  The action is “successful” only if the feeling occurs in the other. What I am trying to say is that for the Earner or Spender to be successful their partner must have the related feeling.  Thus to earn $25 the Earner must do what it takes for the receiver to feel heard (Item 1 above).  Now Mirroring is a training tool that teaches lots of skills that may work.  But one can Mirror them and your partner of the moment may not feel heard, and no points are gained.  When I say, “Make them ….”  I am just saying that to earn the points, the other person must have the feeling (heard, understood, sane, cared for, healed.)

Your task, should you desire to earn the points, is to learn what works with your partner.


Earn it or Spend it: Interpersonal Capital — 2 Comments

  1. Sorry to take so long to get to this as it is a great question. Simplest answer is kind of like using your charge card, to buy anything you want. That's the spending. It's getting your partner to do for you something you want, that they might not want to do. Thousands and thousands of things come to mind.
    Bring you a cup of coffee
    Empty the trash
    Rub your back and shoulders
    Make dinner
    Vacuum your car
    Make love with you
    Hold your hand
    Cut down that annoying tree in the back yard
    Cut you some slack when you forget
    Etc. etc.

  2. Dear Al
    I can follow this analogy fairly well, except for the limitations on spending. Does a spending action have to be considered detrimental? If not, what examples would you give for positive spending?

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