The Benjamin Franklin Effect

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“The best way to get rid of an adversary is to make him your friend”


A smart man indeed was Benjamin Franklin, his accomplishments are many. Of course he was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. And he was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, freemason, postmaster, scientist, inventor, humorist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. Just to name a few of them.

Now Ben was not the kind of guy to sit down and be quiet so that everyone would like him. No! He had opinions, ideas and he took actions that created many difficult relationships.  Being the bright man that he was he knew how to turn an enemy into a friend.

Have you ever heard of the Benjamin Franklin Effect?

Overcoming emotional distance in relationships and hurt when things fall out is very very difficult for most of us. It’s easier to avoid and withdraw from people we don’t like and who don’t like us. But that leads to emotional baggage for most of us. What if Benjamin Franklin could teach us how to heal a difficult relationship?

The method is a counterintuitive way to improve relationships with people in your life with whom you may not get along. Think about someone in your life who you don't get on with. A co-worker, a family member, a neighbor or an ex. Establish that you would like to heal the relationship and be cleared of past. Now work out a favor that you would like from this person that would cost them nothing. It could be advice, practical help, a bit of their time, whatever. Approach this person with your request in a positive and honest spirit with the sincere intent of healing the past. 

When we ask someone to do us a favor, we are signaling that we consider them to have something we don't, whether more intelligence, more knowledge, more skills, or whatever. This is another way of showing admiration and respect, something the other person may not have perceived from us before. The thought is this immediately raises their opinion of us and perhaps make them more willing to forgive the past, both because they enjoy the admiration and have genuinely started to perceive our sincere intent to make amends.

You could find the Benjamin Franklin Effect when done in the spirit of true and sincere admiration could open the door to improved and healthier relationships with others and clear up emotional junk you’ve been carrying around from the past. 

Are you willing to try it?  


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Certified Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse