118: The score

A Thousand Things to Talk About
A Thousand Things to Talk About
118: The score


Do you keep score?

Show notes and links:
Rolling with Pelosi (Newsweek)
Ben Franklin effect (Wikipedia)
Don’t Keep Score (Fast Company)
Do You Keep Score At Work? It’s Time To Stop. (Forbes)
Keeping Score: Good for Sports, Bad for Marriage (The Legacy Project at Cornell)
Why You Should Keep Score in Marriage (iMom)

Keeping score is very easy to do. In work, in relationships, in sports games, and in almost anything that involves interacting. Tit-for-tat, even splits, favors – however you conceptualize it, it’s something that most people do fairly easily. In some ways, the Ben Franklin effect plays on this exact drive. When you ask someone to do a favor for you, they tend to like you more – which some argue is because that person now has a sense that you “owe” them or you could have value for them later.

Of course, as easy as it may be, keeping score may not necessarily be the healthiest habit we as humans have. Fast Company argues long and hard for how letting go of scorekeeping is a good idea for your professional development, as well as the rest of your life. Forbes, in discussing professional life, explains it this way:

“Scorekeeping in order to get your way, or protect yourself from being taken advantage of, is often a transparent, and losing, proposition. If the desired intent is to make things even, it almost never works.”

In romantic relationships, it’s a similar story. Cornell’s Legacy Project, interviewing older people about the lessons they’ve learned, found that many talked about how marriage should not, and was not, a 50-50 proposition. They instead talked about give and take, and partnerships where both individuals were pulling for the same goal.

That’s not to say there’s not some argument for keeping score. On, Shaunti Feldhahn discusses the “right” way to keep score – keeping track of what a partner is giving, and doing one’s best to try and give that much effort or more back.

And a more ruthless version may just work as well. In a Newsweek article about former speaker of the house Nancy Pelosi, her politician father’s “favor file” got discussed. He used the file as a way to keep track of the things he’d done for people – both as a way to keep track of who he had political capital with, and also as a method of remembering what he had done in his career. Transparently keeping score, yes, but it worked in politics.