When Benjamin Franklin was running for his second term as a clerk in the Pennsylvania legislature one of his colleagues gave a big speech criticizing him.

Franklin still won that second term, but he knew he had to get this hater on the side as soon as possible.

As a keen observer of human nature Franklin deployed an ingenious tactic, the excerpt below (taken from his autobiography) explains how it was done:

“Having heard that he had in his library a certain very scarce and curious book, I wrote a note to him, expressing my desire of perusing that book and requesting he would do me the favour of lending it to me for a few days.

“He sent it immediately, and I return it in about a week with another note, expressing strongly my sense of the favour.

When we next met in the House, he spoke to me (which he had never done before), and with great civility; and he ever after manifested a readiness to serve me on all occasions, so that we became great friends, and our friendship continued to his death.”

So what happened here?

This is an example of cognitive dissonance.

When our minds can’t reconcile our behaviors with our beliefs, we change our belief to match the behavior.

After lending Franklin the book, he justified his actions for doing so, and started to like him as a result… you don’t lend a book to someone you dislike!

This psychological phenomenon is affectionately known as the Ben Franklin effect.

The reverse is also true, you grow to hate the people you harm.

Which helps explain war-time atrocities, because during times of war we de-humanize enemies to justify killing them.

In 1969 Jecker and Lecker studied this phenomenon by giving students a chance to win money in an intellectual contest.

After the contest the study participants were broken up into three groups:

In group 1, the researcher asked them to return the money because he used his own funds and was running short.

In group 2, a secretary asked them to return money because it was from the psychology department and funds were low.

In group 3, they were not approached at all.

Then they were all surveyed to see how much they liked the researcher.

Group 1 rated him higher than Group 3, showing that a personal request for favor increased liking.

Group 2 rated the researcher lower than Group 1, showing that an impersonal request for favor decreased liking.

This has obvious benefits in sales and marketing.

Further studies have shown that in a sales setting even just asking for a favor (not necessarily receiving one) can significantly increase the acceptance of discounted offers.

It changes a sales setting from a competitive one (Me verse them) into a reciprocal one (everyone gets something out of this deal), thus increasing your odds.

Key takeaway: Ask potential clients to do you a small favor. Doing so makes you more likable and changes the perception of your interaction, leading to more sales.

About the author : Stanlyya

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