How did Benjamin Franklin deal with ‘difficult customers’?

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Benjamin Franklin almost lost his seat in the US legislature because an opponent of his spoke very disparagingly against him. What he did next, completely reversed the relationship between the two men. This is known today as the Benjamin Franklin effect. In this vlog, Grant explains how he did it and how it can relate to your business.

Benjamin Franklin almost lost his seat in the legislature because an opponent of his spoke very disparagingly against him.

He knew he had to change this relationship.

What he did next might confuse you…

What Benjamin Franklin decided to do was ask this gentleman for a favour.

He had an amazing book collection and Benjamin Franklin wrote to him and asked him if he could borrow one of the books.

A few days later, a book arrived in the post.

Benjamin Franklin read it and then sent a note back thanking him and talking about how wonderful the book was.

When they met in the legislature a few weeks later, this person came over to Benjamin Franklin to strike up a conversation, and over time they became friends.

This has now become known as the Benjamin Franklin effect.

What has been proven. is the brain can’t cope with cognitive dissonance.

In other words, when you don’t like someone and they ask you for a favour and you do it, the brain can’t cope with the fact that you’ve now done a favour for someone you don’t like.

The brain can’t take the favour back, so what the brain starts to do, is change your feelings and your emotional state about that person.

In other words, once they’ve done you a favour, they like you more.

How does this play out in business?

So, funnily enough, if you have a difficult customer or someone that’s difficult, – that looks on your social media or website and leaves comments – you can change the way they feel about you by asking them for a favour.

For example, if you’ve got a new product or service, you might ask them if you can run it past them and see what they think.

You might ask them to trial it.

Although they may be reluctant to do it in the first place, because of the dissonance, they will start to change the way they feel about you.

You can actually use this in everyday life, and you don’t have to wait until someone doesn’t like you.

For example, let’s say you move into a new house.

It would be counterintuitive for the first time you meet the neighbour to ask them for a favour.

But actually one of the best ways you could ever strike up a relationship is by knocking on their door and asking if you can buy a little bit of sugar or something, because you start that reciprocity and they will start to like you immediately because they’ve done something for you.

So next time you are dealing with a difficult person, maybe take a leaf from Benjamin Franklin, and rather than wait till they throw the book at you, ask if you can borrow it first.

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  1. Great blog Grant. I did you a favour and responded as requested – but I liked you anyway.

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