Using The ‘Ben Franklin Effect’ To Deal With Haters

Haters are a part of life.

Hate comes in a variety of forms and can come from friends, family members, coworkers, classmates, associates and random internet trolls.

Haters are the tag-a-longs of success. If you have anything going for yourself, you will experience hate. If you are intelligent, charismatic, creative, thin, rich, a good cook, in a relationship, single, have kids, have a big booty, love your job, or have good hair you are a prime candidate for hate. You hear the snide comments, see the random side-eyes, read the hateful comments under your social media post. And you feel the tension when you try to discuss a recent win with a friend…

Since success is a hate magnet, it would seem that the only two coping options you have are to either embrace the hate or become a loser. And since becoming a loser isn’t an option for truly successful people, most choose to embrace it and use it as fuel. They ignore it when possible and address it when necessary.

But there is a third option…

The Ben Franklin Effect

The quickest and easiest way to turn a hater into a friend is to ask them for a favor.

Sounds crazy right?

It’s actually a well-researched psychological technique called the Ben Franklin Effect. When you ask people who dislike you to help you out, it shifts their perception of the relationship and makes them view you as a friend instead of an enemy. Ben Franklin used this technique to finesse a foe and gained a friend for life.

 Ben’s Story

Once upon a time, Benjamin Franklin had a hater — someone he considered a “gentleman of fortune and education” and who would later become a political powerhouse and influential in government.

In order to recruit the hater to his side, Franklin decided to ask the man for a favor. He asked the gentleman to borrow a book from his library. The man was flattered and obliged the request. Franklin returned the book a week later with an eloquently worded thank-you note.

The next time the two men saw each other, the hater ‘s entire demeanor had changed. He was suddenly extremely friendly with Franklin. Franklin recorded the episode and noted that they remained friends until the gentleman died.

The Franklin Effect’s magic

The Franklin Effect creates cognitive dissonance. According to cognitive dissonance theory, there exists an internal subconscious need for people to establish consistency in their beliefs, values and opinions. When attitudes and behaviors become inconsistent dissonance occurs. The brain hates dissonance and will seek to resolve it.

Dissonance occurs most often in situations where an individual must choose between two incompatible beliefs or actions. So, when it comes to requesting a favor, the reasonable belief is that favors are for friends. When you ask a hater for a favor you create dissonance and the hater has to alter their perception in order to perform the ask and eliminate the inconsistency.

Favors are for friends

Soliciting a favor is a subtle and very effective form of flattery. Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” suggests that requesting a favor allows the hater to feel that they have something you don’t. It levels the playing field in their mind. It also makes the hater feel admired and respected. Then, not only do they want to help you but they will also begin to see you differently. The hate dissipates.

Asking a hater for a favor requires humility and a bit of thought. The favor should be something small enough that it is easily performed but not so trivial that it seems more of an insult than a favor. This means that you should consider the strengths, weaknesses, intellect and ability level of the person you are asking.

If its someone you don’t know, keep the ask simple. Borrowing some change at the vending machine, asking them for assistance with an app on your smartphone or asking for a restaurant recommendation are quick favors that are easily performed by most people.

When you make your request, remember to ensure it sounds like a legitimate need and that you truly value the person’s help. Keep your tone humble and your body language open. And be sure you express your appreciation and gratitude for their help.

Turning every hater into a friend isn’t a plausible goal. In the end, some people aren’t going to like you know matter what you do. You have to learn how to be ok with that. But for the ones who may dislike due to a misconception or prejudgement, you can open the door of friendship with this one act of humility.


Published by Hill Writing & Editing

Denise Hill is currently a speech writer and senior editor at a government agency and also a professional freelance writer and editor. She has written and published over 200 online articles, ghostwritten a book and has an array of publishing and editing experience. She is a competent, creative and a deadline driven professional.

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