Ever need to win someone over?

We’ve probably all been there at least once. Maybe we got off on the wrong foot or disagreed right out of the gate. Maybe the first impression we made wasn’t as strong as we would’ve liked. Or maybe we’re trying to deepen a connection that’s only been superficial so far.

It seems counterintuitive, but a way to win someone over is to ask them for something.

This is the Franklin effect in action.

Winning Them Over

I once had a co-worker who could best be described as “prickly.” Early in my time with the organization, I quickly learned that most of my other colleagues tried to avoid him. They’d all been on the receiving end of one of his verbal smackdowns at least once. Needless to say, I was terrified to talk to him.

But one day, I found I had to ask him a question because he was the only person who could help me. Trembling in my boots, I managed to squeak out my question and then asked for his assistance. To my surprise and relief, he patiently worked with me to resolve the issue. Genuinely grateful, I thanked him for his assistance. And from then on, he greeted me with a smile when I walked into the office each morning.

I had just benefitted from the Franklin effect.

The Franklin Effect: Favors, Advice, and Help

Benjamin Franklin once had a political rival who didn’t like him very much. Rather than try to grovel for approval or outmaneuver him politically, Franklin did something radical – he wrote a letter asking to borrow a rare book that his colleague owned. The politician agreed to lend it to him. Franklin returned the book a few days later with a note thanking his one-time opponent. From that point on, the politician was friendlier and more open to working with Franklin.

Franklin had uncovered an interesting psychological phenomenon – when someone does a kindness for us, they’re more apt to like us. This has been dubbed the Franklin effect. Subsequent studies have shown that the Franklin effect still holds true.

The Benefits of Vulnerability

When we ask others for help, advice, and favors, we’re human and relatable. Most people respond to this kind of vulnerability by liking us more, not less.

The key is to be genuine. People can smell manipulation from a mile away. The Franklin effect is at its most powerful when the request for help is coming from an authentic need or real vulnerability. Besides, none of us wants to develop a reputation for being fake.

So if you find yourself needing to win over that prickly person, or you simply want to strengthen an existing relationship, ask that person for help when you need it. Seek out their advice. Ask them for a favor when you need one. And thank them for what they’ve given you. The power of the Franklin effect will help transform your relationship – for the better.

Want to learn more about building relationships? Check out this article!