Asking Favors First is a Powerful Idea to Build Relationships

People’s positive experience comes with caveats. Academic research is spiced garnish.

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Photo by Edwin Andrade

Did you feel good? Why? Who did you relate with? Was it because of the warmth of humanity when you put yourself out there with strangers?

My research indicates that 4 conditions help make it happen. Best said with a real story.

Benjamin Franklin, in his early career, was running for office. Like most of us, his beginnings were modest.

The four conditions for the story to work for you and me.

  1. Ben Franklin focused his research on knowing the rich man’s personal interest.
  2. He first asked for a favor before earning the rich man’s goodwill — counter-intuitive and contrary to accepted civility. The accepted social norm is that you do nice things to people before asking for favor. The general premise underlying this approach is that you help people and they in turn like you enough to help you. The reality is that you start to like people you help. Numerous psychology studies have validated this statement. An experimental study by Jim Jecker and David Landy , in 1969 quantified the impact. Best summed up in the Benjamin Franklin’s words, “He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another, than he whom you yourself have obliged.”
  3. He asked a favor on what is of least cost to the rich man. Lending a book does not cause monetary or reputational risk for the rich man. This is key condition especially in combination with the first one.
  4. He sent a meaningful, handwritten thank you note. Given that the story occurred in 1730’s helped the case for a handwritten note. Nevertheless, the impact of a personalized thank you almost always creates wonders. Campbell Soup’s former CEO Douglas Conant is a big advocate of handwritten thank you note and by his count has written at least 30,000 thank-you notes to employees over the course of his 10-year career.

The takeaway

In the video, the young man put himself out there asking for help first. Ben Franklin did the same in 1730s. As Brené Brown,Professor who studies human connection evocated in her 35+Million viewed TED talk — there is power in vulnerability.

Put yourself out there and ask — because there is a visceral joy of being accepted when you are your vulnerable best.

There is a subtle math in all this. We need to discover ways to increase the odds for euphoria. Ben Franklin leads the way in building relationships by asking first. My mom’s giving advice balances it out.

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The power of asking first at its naked best.

  1. Circling back to the video, the simple act of tying a tie has a remarkable force — the vulnerability expressed by the asker creates the virality within the giver’s warmth . It is just not the givers — even watchers are moved.

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Stories to fuel your mind. Theme: life’s hidden treasures in plain sight. Goal: Warm tone, solid content, crisp stories. About me: one google search away.

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