A strange way to make people like you


This is going to sound weird. It’s a psychological concept named after Ben Franklin, who used it to get a rival legislator and powerful political enemy to put aside his ill will towards Franklin.  

His foe didn’t like Ben and had been making negative speeches about him. Ben was determined to win him over. But instead of offering to give something to his rival, or do something for him to show him he was a good guy, Ben did the opposite. He asked the man to do something for him. 

Yep, he asked his enemy for a favor. 

He knew the man owned a rare book, and Ben asked if he would loan it to him. When he returned the book, Ben thanked him profusely and found that his old enemy became his friend. 

Ben had triggered what we now know as cognitive dissonance. 

Our brains find it difficult to hold two contradictory beliefs at the same time. To resolve this conflict, we tend to alter one of our beliefs. 

His rival didn’t like Franklin, which contrasted with his belief that you don’t do favors for people you don’t like, something he had just done. To resolve this conflict, he was forced to back away from his negative feelings towards Franklin, and that’s how these enemies became friends. 

Today, it’s called The Ben Franklin Effect and you can use it to win friends and influence people.

If you want someone to like you, get them to do you a favor. 


You don’t have to read this if you don’t want to


FBI hostage negotiators supposedly use a strategy that makes hostage-takers more likely to cooperate. The idea is that people are more apt to agree with something we propose when we affirmatively give them permission to say ‘no’.

You can use this when negotiating with another party or with your clients.

You might be talking to a client about the opposition’s offer and say, “I know you wanted more and if you don’t want to accept the offer, just tell me; I’ll understand.”

They might give you a hard no, but they also might soften their position and be willing to discuss it.

Or, instead of using an “alternative choice” close, e.g., “Do you want to get started today or is next week better for you?” you might say, “Are you ready to get started? If you want to wait, that’s fine.”

However you word it, you give them an out. They know they can say no, but telling them they can do that apparently makes it more likely they won’t.

Why does giving someone permission to say no make it more likely they’ll say yes?

Because people like to buy but don’t like to be sold.

Nobody likes to be pushed or told what to do. When you move forward towards them, they move back. When you back off and let them make the call, however, it empowers them. They relax and open to other options.

I’m not saying this is always the way to go. But it’s nice to have another tool in the toolbox.

Of course, you don’t have to use this approach if you don’t want to.


A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client?


Is it true? Does a lawyer who represents himself have a fool for a client?

Some people say that if you represent yourself in a proceeding or negotiation, it’s too easy to compromise your power and invite your emotions to get in the way.

I think they might be onto to something.

I can be tough as nails when it comes to representing a client’s interests but I’m not so good when it comes to representing my own.

If we have a contractor over to the house to bid on something, I’ll read the contracts but do my best to avoid talking to the contractor. I’m afraid I’ll either give away what I’m willing to accept or piss the guy off and have him take a walk.

My wife doesn’t have these issues. She’s nice to people. Level headed. So she talks to contractors and salespeople for us. I look at the bid and tell her what I think and she gets the deal done.

Okay, but you can’t hire an attorney or hide behind your wife for everything in life. And I don’t. I can and do ask for lots of things, like asking vendors to honor an expired coupon, for example.

The other day, I was looking at some software and reading some reviews. I saw a bunch of coupons offering discounts, including a few for 80% off, but all of the coupons were expired. I contacted the company and asked if they had any current coupons or promotions. A representative got back to me this morning and said they didn’t, that the ones I saw online were part of their ‘kickstarter’ phase.

So sad. Too bad. (Don’t tell her. I’ll probably buy anyway. At least I tried.)

And then she said, “But I can offer you 10% off; just use “.

What did I accomplish? I’ll save a few bucks and that’s nice but I gained something far more valuable. I imprinted on my brain a successful ‘negotiation’ on my behalf. I asked for something and I got something. Yay me.

I know, some lawyers are reading this and thinking, “What a wuss. I’d go back and ask for 80%, maybe settle for 50%. It’s not over until I win!”

Okay, settle down.

Anyway, if you’re like me and you are sometimes reluctant to negotiate on your behalf or ask people for favors, do what I did and get in some practice.

Practice asking your clients for referrals or to share your content. Practice asking website visitors to sign up for your newsletter. Practice asking seminar attendees to make an appointment. Practice asking prospective clients to sign up.

It never hurts to ask. And who knows, you might actually get good at it someday. If not, talk to my wife. Maybe she’ll help you out.

You can ask for referrals without talking to your clients. Here’s how