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Benjamin Franklin Effect

by on May 19, 2014

How do you get other people to like you? How do you get them to do what you want them to do? How do you get a person who does not like you to change into a person who does like you?

Benjamin Franklin knew how to do this. He was a master psychologist and a master politician.

“He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another, than he whom you yourself have obliged.”

To win a powerful rival, Franklin asked to borrow an expensive book from the man. The man was flattered and lent the book. He was flattered to be asked to share his treasured book with someone so well known as Franklin. He was now a part of Franklin’s success. He could boast of loaning a book to a famous man. He also began to think, “I loaned my valuable possession to Franklin. I must like him or I would not have leant him my valued book.” Franklin won him over by making him feel good about himself and causing him to change his mind about Franklin.

People are typically quite willing to change their minds about their formerly held attitudes if you can tap into their self-concept. If you can create a situation where they feel good about helping you, they will begin to feel good about you because you made them feel good about themselves. They became the helper and thus they became useful. Everyone wants to feel useful.

This is the politician’s plot at every turn.

If this person, prior to this time, had a negative attitude toward you; he/she will hold that attitude for a long time. If you can get this person to do something for you, the person will now feel useful and feel good about him/herself and thus feel good about you.

That raises a major question. How will this person reconcile their dual feelings – negative about you and positive about you? The person, now controlled by feeling good about him/herself because of you, will adjust their thinking to feeling good about you. This person will now adjust his/her thinking to feel good about you and discount any former negative feelings as having been somehow incorrect.

Personal requests for favors flatter people. Ask a favor of a person with a negative attitude toward you and they will typically change their opinion of you. You are acknowledging a personal need. Your request indicates that you believe that they can supply you need. They are flattered.

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