Ben Franklin learned that when he asked others for a small favor, it caused them to like him more.
This is genius because it leverages several things all together at once. Because it’s a small ask, it would be impolite for the target to refuse.
Think something simple. Consequently they accept, because refusing would be impolite. This then kicks in some powerful psychology—Robert Cialdini’s principles of influence. The commitment and consistency principle causes cognitive dissonance.
Their brain thinks, “Why did I do this? I must’ve done it because I like them.” Also, as Cialdini notes, because they’ve complied with a small request, they’re more likely to agree to a larger ask later.
Quite simply, this life hack is brilliant because it’s not just for others, it’s also for you.
Here’s how you can leverage it in your life.
Small steps become big steps
Use this principle on yourself. If you want to get yourself to do something big and challenging, start with the smallest comfortable step to make it happen, and the snowball will build.
If you want to lose 100 pounds, and you identify that it’ll take both dietary and exercise changes, do this: remove one easy thing from your diet and add one bit of easy exercise you can do daily. So, “no pop or soda,” and “a 20 minute walk every day.”
You’ll be surprised how doing these simple things—and doing them consistently—will move your disposition toward making bigger changes in diet and exercise much easier.
Investing in yourself = loving yourself
Unhappy with yourself? “The Franklin” shows how you can get to love yourself. The reason people who do favors for you begin to like you is because they’ve invested in you. Their brain makes them defend their investment with good feelings.
Use this trick on yourself—do something for you. Do a favor for yourself: work hard and then go on a vacation. Workout and then go out in public in a bathing suit. Learn an instrument and make a YouTube video, or have friends over and play. The more you invest in yourself, by doing favors for yourself, the more you love yourself.
Invest in others to get along with them
If you have someone in your life you have to work or live with but can’t stand, “The Franklin” offers the solution: do something valuable and useful for them. If you get along decently well but can’t stand their company, try to identify something you could do that might help them out and ask them if you could do it for them.
Most likely, they’ll either accept or politely protest (a defense to prevent the law of reciprocity from kicking in, look it up). Don’t accept it if it’s just polite social protestation. Do the favor and two things will happen: 1. You’ll begin to like them more, and 2. They’ll reply in kind when you ask them for something.
In fact, have something ready to ask them for—not immediately, but soon after you do them a favor. You’ll find that the two of you will get along better.
“The Franklin” is a very, very productive life hack both for yourself and for others.
This article originally appeared on Quora.
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