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How to Dodge The Trojan Favor

Let’s talk about weaponized reciprocity.

“Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes” is a Latin saying that means “I fear the Greeks, even when they bring gifts”.

It’s a quote from a skeptic among the besieged, warning his ruler about not trusting the “gift” wooden horse that the enemies left behind in front of the gates. Nobody listened to him, the Trojan horse was embraced, and a whole lot of bloodshed ensued. Cue the curtains.**

In a modern business sense, “be weary of surprising gifts and favors” or “things that seem too good to be true usually are” is still solid advice.**

And people

In particular, “I’m offering you this job as a favor to help you out” is a popular “gift” that clients like to “give”. Especially when it’s followed by “But your price is too high”.

It’s supposed to get you thinking, “They did me a favor, and now I need to reciprocate”. Most of the time, it’s a ruse.By the time they call you, they are probably in trouble, and people like you are rarer than you think.

It’s not personal, it’s just something they usually say to vendors to lower the costs, and they do it because it so often works. We want good relationships, and it seems rude not to play their game and refuse to discount.

When you learn to recognize it, you will be able to thank them for the “favor”, and offer an adequately meaningless/costless “favor” in return, but stand by your price. Tit for tat, their move.

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