The value of exchange is gold. And I’m not talking about the coin… I’m talking about the everyday interactions that you experience with others that gives you a sense of true meaning.
I recently had a meeting that ended with a blunt question, “So, what can you offer me?” Taken aback at first, I stopped to think about all that the nonprofit in front of me had provided – unlimited access to information about their strategic vision and purpose; time of three staff members over the course of two days, and a creative space to have our meetings. I had certainly taken a lot from our interaction, but I did not have anything immediate that I could provide in return.
There’s something so powerful about an exchange, but what is an acceptable form of return? A meaningful connection? An offer of an introduction? An actual conversation that turns into something else?
Whenever I take photos of people who may or may not have given me explicit permission, I often approach them afterwards to show them the photograph that I took, usually accompanied by an exclamation of, “Very nice!” This brief encounter usually ends in a thumbs up or a dry smile, but it’s the social currency that I like the most. I know that I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t give something back – namely, the very nature of our interaction.
My goal is for people to feel vested in the interactions that I have with them.The feeling of not being able to provide something in exchange gives me an empty feeling, although I know that it’s sometimes hard to predict how the favor will be returned in the future.
While it’s important to show someone the photo or offer up an introduction, it doesn’t mean that something tangible has to come out of it right away…unless you’re doing magic tricks, in which case I want you to pull a silver dollar out of my ear.