How to Discourage People From Exploiting Favors You Do for Them

It feels good to do someone a favor once in a while.

We feel a sense of altruism, and perhaps increase our, “hope for humanity,” through taking kind action ourselves. You may even subscribe to a deeper meaning in your desire to help others, and doing so can become a part of your identity.

What seems to demotivate those who attempt to act altruistically, is when the recipients of their help become exploitative of it. People can become too dependent on the favors you do for them, and can begin to see it as an opportunity to gain from. They can get into a habit of asking you for favors on a continuous basis after you’ve done them a few favors early on. In essence, they may go on to take advantage of your desire to label yourself as altruistic. They’ll test your desire to be kind, and will view their asks as right by you; since you seemingly like helping people out so much.

Such situations are tough for kindhearted individuals to navigate through. Some reading this article may have a difficult time refusing to help others when they ask for help. They may find themselves stuck in a cycle of attempting to keep up a reputation of kindness, whilst others keep taking advantage of it.

The goal of this article therefore, is to limit the tendency for people to exploit your act of doing them favors through implicit means.

This article hopes to give you a pointer on how to discourage people from making a habit out of asking you for favors, after they notice you to be a kind individual.


Excessive Kindness: The Creditor

Favors can come in reciprocative forms, or just one way acts. Someone can ask you for a ride to work for instance, only to give you one tomorrow. That favor would be a reciprocative one, as an unspoken agreement would be made to exchange favors. Other favors can simply entail someone asking you to pick something up from the store whilst you’re already there, for which they’ll pay you back when you deliver it to them. That favor would likely be a one way interaction, as them catching you going to the store may have been by chance.

A good way to limit  how exploitative someone is with the favors they ask, is to make them feel more indebted than they already expect to be, for the favor you do for them.

The way to doing that, is to agree on a favor to do for them, be it reciprocative or not, only to perform more than what was asked. This way, the people asking you for favors will fear you doing too much for them, and would thereby feel a pressure to pay you back in some way.

For example, let’s say your neighbor catches you backing out of your driveway and asks you to pick something up for them at the grocery store (for which they’ll pay you back). As you drive to the store, you may fear this becoming a habit down the line. What if your neighbor begins staring out their window every time they hear you backing out of your driveway in an effort to ask you for a favor? A continuous streak of such events would inevitably become a nuisance.

An effective thing to do in that scenario, would be to gladly accept their ask, deliver the things they’ve asked of you, but to not take any money from them. The situation would thereby be one of you exceeding the initially agreed upon stipulations of the favor. You’d do them an even bigger favor by not only delivering the products which they’ve asked you to deliver, but also gifting those products to them. You’d be considered even kinder than previously thought.

As your neighbor excessively thanks you for such a kind gesture, they’d be discouraged from asking you of such favors again. They’ll realize that you’re always going to go a step above the favor for which they ask. It’ll make them feel indebted to you, as such kind gestures would look bad going unreciprocated. Your neighbor would feel a sense shame should they go on to continuously ask for such favors down the line, as the amount they’re indebted to you for will continue to grow.

With this method, you’d thereby save the label of being a kind individual for yourself, and perhaps may even grow it. However, you’ll also go on to discourage people from making a habit out of their desire to ask you for favors. Should they continue to ask for favors, you’ll entice them to feel indebted, and a little ashamed, down the line.

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Disclaimer of Opinion: This article is presented only as opinion. It does not make any scientific, factual, or legal claims. Please critically analyze all claims made and independently decide on its validity.