The Shockingly Easy Way to Get People to do What You Want

ideaNote from Vic: Out of the blue I got en email from a fella named Ludvig Sunström asking if he can make a guest post on Bold and Determined.

I gave my usual answer, a polite no, but then he did something unexpected. He sent me FOUR! articles and asked me to critique his writing.

He got me to do him one small favor – critique his writing (and we made one little tweak and his writing instantly went from good but blah to wow).

Ludvig wanted to be published on Bold and Determined and now he is. The name of this piece is “The Shockingly Easy Way to Get People to do What You Want“.

Does his advice work? And can you use his “bright idea” to get people to do what you want?

You be the judge.

Enter Ludvig…..

—————–

[OPEN INBOX: EMPTY]

Dammit! Why is no one getting back to me?

What am I doing wrong here?

I used to wonder why people didn’t get back to me after we’d had – from my point of view – an interesting conversation.

I used to wonder why the other person wasn’t as interested in the interaction as I was.

Why was it that I was more interested in the other person than he or she was interested in me?

I’ll tell you why.

The reason why these people didn’t care about me was because I’d brutally failed to get any kind of investment from them.

Fortunately I don’t have that problem anymore.

Right now you’re probably wondering:

What do you mean by investment – and what can I do to get it?

For me to tell you about that I first need to explain you about the Benjamin Franklin Effect.

The Benjamin Franklin Effect

The Benjamin Franklin Effect states that once a person has done you a favor they will be more likely to do you another favor.

This stands in contrast to the popular belief that if you do someone a favor they will feel inclined to return it.

The reason it’s called the Benjamin Franklin Effect is because Franklin used the strategy to turn a hostile legislator into a friend by asking to borrow a book from him. In other words, Franklin got his enemy to do him a favor.

You can use the Benjamin Franklin effect to do two things:

  1. Investment. If you can get another person to invest in you somehow they will afterwards post-rationalize their decision to do a thing for you, even if they initially didn’t want to.
  2. Establish behavior. If you can get someone to do a thing for you once you dramatically boost the chances of them doing it for you again by establishing a pattern of behavior.

I’ll go into these two aspects and break it down into actionable advice that you can put to use in your life by getting people to do what you want more easily.

1.    Investment

When I say invest it can be anything from time, emotions, money or even material objects.

The important thing is that you must get the other person to put at least one of these things into the interaction or the relationship.

Why must you do this?

Because when you get someone to invest in you, they will start to care about you.  They will like you a lot more if they have formed a personal interest in you – and this happens when you get them to focus on you for a prolonged period of time.

Let me give you an example.

Do you like Bold and Determined more or less compared to when you first started read the site?

You like it more.

You like Bold and Determined more now because you’ve invested a lot of time and energy in understanding the material, the philosophy, and the peer group of the site.

We’re always Investing in Something

We’re always investing in something whether we know of it or not – and this is continually sending feedback to our brains.

The more we invest in something the more we care about it as a result of getting increasingly committed. This is because the brain is wired to think in terms of sunk cost related to energy spent on a thing.

Now tell me:

What kind of feedback do you think you’re sending your brain if you waste time or invest emotionally in TV series?

This is how You Use the Benjamin Franklin Effect to Gain Investment from People

It’s crucial that you start thinking in terms of investment when it comes to situations such as social events or business conferences –places where you meet lots of people that you won’t remember.

The Benjamin Franklin Effect is a very useful trick for getting them to remember you.

Here’s what you need to do to get investment from people:

Get them to do you small favors as quickly as possible after meeting them.

  • Ask to borrow a pen, a book, or a movie – any material object.
  • Ask for their advice or expertise on something they’re interested in and they will want to tell you all about it. Remember, the longer you keep them talking and the more time they invest in you the more likely it is that they will like and remember you.
  • Give them a reason to chat with you or get back to you about something, then get their contact information or give them yours. When I say a reason I mean literally anything. Find something that you both have in common or find a thing that they are interested in and use it as leverage. This is a good way to gain emotional investment.

After you’ve done any of these things let them know that they’ve done a nice thing by doing you a favor.

You need to reward their good behavior and make them feel good about themselves.

People love being thought of as helpful.

Why Does it Work?

Why does it even work in the first place?

That’s an important question to ask.

It works because people do less thinking than they think they do. Most of their decisions are governed by heuristics – mental shortcuts used by their brains to save time and energy.

The thinking part of their brain – the neocortex, is manipulated by the emotional part of their brain – the amygdala. In normal language that means that logic occurs after emotional desires and that they post-rationalize their behavior by coming up with logical explanations after they’ve done a thing.

(Watch this video if you want to know more about post rationalization)

Even if a person is unknowingly tricked into spending time or energy on something, that person will unconsciously post-rationalize it by thinking:

If I did that, then I must have wanted to do it. Otherwise I wouldn’t have done it… Yeah, that’s what happened. I must really like this thing!

So – just like the curious case of Benjamin Franklin – even if a person doesn’t initially like you, by doing you a favor of some sort, this person will like you more afterwards as a result of post-rationalization.

The person unconsciously thinks:

I only do favors for people I care about, so there’s no way I would’ve done this guy a favor unless I liked him…

2.    Established Behavior

The other way that you can use the Benjamin Franklin Effect is to establish behaviors between you and another person.

Remember, if you can get someone to do a thing once they’ll be a lot more likely to do it again.

Once you establish a certain pattern of behavior it becomes increasingly hard to break the more you do it.

This is also true for social dynamics.

Think of it this way:

The Benjamin Franklin Effect is a lot more effective when you use it on people that you don’t hang around too much, because with these people you have already established a strong social dynamic.

Get it Right from the Get-go

First impressions matter – a lot.

The reason for this is because once we’ve formed an opinion it’s challenging and energy-demanding to change it.

Therefore it’s really important that you deliberately manage the first encounter.

You can and should use the Benjamin Franklin Effect to make a stronger first impression.

I want you to try it out and see for yourself the next time you meet a new person by deliberately getting that person to do something for you.

It doesn’t really matter what they do for you as long as it’s something.

If you repeat this process the first few times you hang out with the other person you’ll quickly establish that as a part of the social dynamic. You could literally get people to keep doing things for you more or less on automation.

By deliberately giving people small orders from the get-go you will quickly establish a very dominant social position.

So get it right from the get-go.

How to Use the Benjamin Franklin Effect to Establish Behavior

Here’s when and how you should use it:

  • When you meet a new person you should establish a certain pattern of behavior as soon as possible by getting them to do small things in the direction of your goal with the interaction.
  • You don’t necessarily have to get the other person to do things for you, it can also be that you want to establish your own behavior in a certain way and be perceived differently than usual, for example when moving to a new town. In either case, you must implement this behavior from the get-go.
  • You can establish patterns of behavior linked to specific environments as well, for example in your house, in the bar, in the gym, at work, in school, etc.

How to Use the Benjamin Franklin Effect Correctly

The Benjamin Franklin Effect is massively useful – but only when used correctly.

This is not a strategy that you can use ten times in a row; you can’t ask people for favors ten times in a row and expect them to comply– that’s just going to make you seem like a greedy value-leech.

At some point you will have to return the favor or people will think that you’re a manipulative person who’s just using them!

The correct way to use the Benjamin Franklin effect is by using it sparingly.

This is only supposed to be a small trick in your toolbox of charisma and persuasion that you use to get the initial attention of the other person, but as soon as you’ve done that you still need to provide value and be cool.

Look at it this way:

The Benjamin Franklin effect is an efficient way of turning the spotlight onto you so that the other person can see you more clearly; but once the other person sees you clearly you better be a badass and contribute some value.

Do you have any methods of your own for getting people to do what you want?

About the author: Ludvig Sunström runs the practical self-development blog Startgainingmomentum and has written the book Breaking out of Homeostasis. Apart from success and self-development, he is passionate about learning, reading, philosophizing, eating healthy and hitting the gym. You can get in contact with him on Twitter and Google+.

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Comments

  1. Ragnar Darko says:

    Awesome post. Consciously thinking about your interactions with other people is critical to running a successful business. Vic, more of this stuff please!

  2. Such a simple thing, but nevertheless very powerful. I actually think this “Benjamin Franklin effect” works extra well with women, since they really love to be submissive and do you favors.
    Checked out your site Ludvig. Looks legit!

    • Absolutely works with women. Women in particular, when they become invested into something (a real man) will continue to do everything in their power to keep said investment.

    • Thanks.

      You have an interesting site as well, to say the least.

      I liked your post about thinking in terms of:
      Product
      Customers
      Marketing
      Sales

  3. Great piece.

    Unbeknownst to me, unconsciously, I have been applying the Benjamin Franklin Effect for a while. I can truly say, everything in this post is correct. Not only is it correct, it is almost a universal law; when people are invested in you, they will continue to be invested in you. This applies to literally almost all facets of your life; your money, your health, your relationships and so on.

    Reading this made me conscious of something that has worked for me over and over again but I’ve never been able to put it into words…until now. A big thank you to Vitor and Ludvig.

    • Thanks for reading Mac.

      I agree, it is a universal principle. It’s how our brains work.

    • This seems really useful in sales…I am a mortgage banker and my job involves getting realtors to send me clients, essentially as favors since they can send it to anyone, so this trick I will definitely use in my first meeting!

  4. This is a radiating article.

    It’s pretty long one but I read every word of it.

    I see this happen all the time in relationships and in business.

    You gotta make them feel good about making the decision to help you out or else they’ll get the feeling of buyer’s remorse or being duped. Or else they probably won’t help you anymore.

    Ludwig’s pretty good at long copy. You would make Ogilvy happy. Cheers to you mate.

    Dwolf

  5. Really really good post. Thanks dudes.

    • BTW this could also be called the poker effect. Once you have money in the pot it is very difficult to remember that money is now the pot’s money and you can’t avenge it by throwing good money after bad. You must remember that money is gone and make your decisions accordingly, minute by minute. Very difficult to do. Poor poker players go bust quickly because they can’t handle the fact that some of their money is already invested in the pot for that hand and they end up going all in and losing it all. This is analogous to when a man gets married. lol — I made that mistake. Do as I say, not as I do.

      • Very true. I believe it’s called the “sunk cost fallacy”.

        • I would hope not. The “sunk cost fallacy” is typified by the 30 year old living in Mom’s basement who keeps hitting her up for “loans”, or the deadbeat whose landlord won’t kick him out because he owes a year of back rent. You’re assuming that the investment made by the other person is a /bad/ investment, and I think that most readers here aspire to better than parasitism. The object should be to get people involved, not to cheat them.

      • That makes a ton of sense! I see it all the time in a bi-monthly poker game I play with 20 or so guys there. I always wondered what makes a person go all in on such a poor hand!

  6. Interesting article. You don’t need a PhD but to have some psych knowledge would definitely be in your favor.

  7. This may also work with yourself.
    Just by starting doing something about your goal, whatever, you d be feeling like you need to follow through, not to lose the precious “investement” you ve already made. For instance, I know that if I workout in the morning I m less likely to mess my eating up since I dont want to ruin my work. And so on.

    Svoboda

    • I do the same thing. I’ve actually written a lot about it lately. I think the whole “mindset of investment” is really important to view things from.

  8. Wow. This blew my mind. Such a simple thing, but APPARENTLY working.

    Would this work on girls too?

    • In theory; yes.
      In my experience; yes.

      Example: Most recent girl I have been sleeping with, I ask her to do me favors all the time (trivial shit, honestly). She does so with a smile on her face. She is invested. Granted, I am giving her good sex in return. But yes, it can and will work with girls if you apply it correctly.

      • Joey the Hustler says:

        Well yeah, that’s why women always seem to gravitate towards bums. Because the bums constantly ask her to do things for him while the successful dudes would rather do it themselves, essentially screwing themselves out of the benefit.

      • Thanks for answering me guys!

        Ill try it out next time i go out. Any specific tips on what I can do?

  9. Wow. This type of deal has happened to me without realising it. A friend asked if he could come train with me at the gym I go to, and I said I’d love that but I didn’t have any money. This indirectly got him to pay for me to go and as such made it much easier for him to do other things for me – almost on demand. He even offered to give me jeans that didn’t fit him any more and I took his offer when he told me a few pairs were Levis, of which I would sell and benefit from. Although I feel like a prick because of this (he offered to pay for my gym entry a second time!) I know that he feels happy about going out of his way for me while I reap the physical rewards. Some say this is manipulation but more than ever the person on the favour-giving end feels good about doing things for other people as they feel it builds the relationship. Just be sure to take and reward kind behaviour but not give and get nothing back.

    • George,

      This is an excellent example of what I mean!

      Like you say, it’s important to take into account that people aren’t altruistic. They LIKE doing favors so long as you get them to feel good about it. No one ever does anything purely selflessly.

  10. Thanks, it definitely works!
    Looks like Vic will ask you to send him out other articles, he’ll be brain-tricked BBZZZ :)

  11. That really works. I’ve learned about it from “Influence” by Robert Cialdini. If interested in other methods like that, check the book. Look here on wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Cialdini#6_key_principles_of_influence_by_Robert_Cialdini This thing’s called “Commitment and Consistency”.

  12. Alexander Skafte says:

    “Ask for their advice or expertise on something they’re interested in and they will want to tell you all about it.”
    I do this all the time, if someone even hints of having the slightest interest in something I am deeply interested in. I wonder if it annoys people when I go on my, probably somewhat unexpected, mini-rants.

    Anyhow; great post, Ludvig. I liked how you connected this to watching and getting emotionally attached to TV series (which is just a symbol for time-wasteful behavior, I reckon). I will definitely try to take the BFE into consideration from now on!

  13. Joey the Hustler says:

    Great post, very well written. I’m sure Vic will have no regrets however, it’s not called “The Benjamin Franklin Effect”, This is in effect is, “How to be a Coquette”. It’s essentially a rehash of Robert Greene’s chapter in the Art of Seduction as well as the concept was described in detail in “Yes: 50 ways to be more persuasive.”, it’s called the foot in the door technique. but all that aside, it is definitely powerful stuff.

    Oh and it DEFINITELY works on women.

    And your boss….

    • “…….however, it’s not called “The Benjamin Franklin Effect”, This is in effect is, “How to be a Coquette”. ”

      It’s probably a matter of definition right? Robert Greene hardly came up with the effect, especially since Benny Franklin lived before him. Just my 5 cent.

      “And your boss….”

      This made me snicker a bit :)

      • Ludvig,

        Awesome post man. Love the psychology behind this. Such a simple matter to flip someone’s opinion simply by asking them for something. I had heard of this before, but had not thought of it in ages.

        A powerful way of using cognitive dissonance to your advantage!

        -SJ

  14. F#&Kin Genious!!

  15. One of the ways car salesmen get you to buy a car is to waste (or rather invest) your time with him. Basically, the more time you spend wit him, the more likely you won’t go to someone else to buy a car.

    It does work … in the beginning. But once the relationship is set, you gotta make sure you give and take, instead of take, take, and take. No one likes a leech.(I’m sure you know someone who only contacts you when he needs something.)

    So yes, establish behavior and ask for more favors, but make sure the other guy is getting something out of it too.

    Anyways, good article!

    • This is neat. I checked your blog Alex, will I learn more about this stuff from the books your recommend?

      PS:
      I just did my first comment here, and now i’m doing my THIRD.. I feel myself getting more and more invested in this conversation and it’s scaringly powerful – like i seriously FEEL it. Lol I’ll probably end up spending too much time checking these comments today…

      • Hey Lukas,

        That’s awesome.

        You can learn lessons like these from books, but only partially. You also have to learn from experience. So definitely start out with Influence by Robert Cialdini. And put into practice what you learn.

        In the beginning, you’ll screw up. But that’s ok. Keep on doing what works, and stop doing what doesn’t work.

  16. Great post. One question though, women excluded, what about when your dealing with a jagoff? i.e. work, school, out in bars? I agree that using the “carrot” in the carrot-and-stick approach is the smarter way to go if it’ll work. However, when you live in a major metropolitan city like I do, this approach might not be the best route to go. When a man asks another man for something, (and he’s not an aq

  17. aqauntence, you could come off as looking week. Generally when dealing with blacks and Mexicans, this is true. The wolves will prey. Bottom line, when in doubt, use the stick. You can always apologize later if you used the wrong approach. Better yet, f*ck ‘em, never apologize.

    Just my 2cents.

    • What you’re saying makes sense, but I think you’re seeing it from the wrong point of view. You’d be surprised at how nice people can be if you are genuine in your approach. The delivery is KEY. You don’t want it to appear desperate – like you’re drowning and reaching out for help. You want it to be subcommunicated that you’re fine whether or not this guy does a thing for you or not, but IF he did, it would make your day.

      Also, when it comes to apologizing:
      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with apologizing, as long as you it in a respectful and honest manner. This means that you don’t do it in a submissive and “weak” way.

      • On apologies: NEVER apologize to someone who has any claim on you, like a boss or a girlfriend or a creditor. It just weakens you. You might explain (which is the original meaning of apologize), but never show contrition (unless you’re being sentenced by a judge). On the other hand don’t hesitate to apologize to a subordinate, even if you’re not really at fault. They will respect you as someone willing to take responsibility. NEVER ask for an apology, that’s insulting and shows your weakness at the same time. When someone offers you a sincere apology, acknowledge it but NEVER offer or admit forgiveness. Let them earn it by future action. Disregard insincere apologies.

        • But what if the subordinates/employees see you (the boss) as weak for apologizing? Won’t they not respect you and shirk more?

          • You don’t apologize to your employees for their shirking. If you have a possible problem employee, you say something like, “I’m sorry, it’s my fault I didn’t give you clear guidance about taking breaks.” And of course this is followed with “guidance” which is a thinly veiled warning.

            The thing is, most people will appreciate the thin veil even though they recognize it. It shows respect and you are acknowledging that you value them. Cut them some slack and let THEM judge their own performance. Some will try to justify your tolerance. Also it gives them a chance to discuss extenuating problems that may exist. If you’re visibly tolerant, they’ll be more comfortable admitting that (e.g.) they are perpetually exhausted because of sleep apnea (make what you will of excuses, it’s more useful than some sullen guy with a chewed ass looking for a way to vandalize your operation).

            Most employees need periodic reinforcement. In addition to normal human needs, they’re typically living a hand-to-mouth existence (no matter how well they’re paid) which you can disrupt at any whim. On the other hand, some are just worthless. That’s when the conversation begins with, “I’m sorry, but your services are no longer required.” (“I’m sorry” is optional here.)

            I’ve seen supervisors who could get (some) useful work out of minimum-wage flunkees that I would have fired in two hours – and wasted two hours of my own time hiring an equally useless replacement. Ergo I’ve learned some respect for the methods that get the best out of the worst.

  18. Ludgwig – good insights here backed up by some solid research on how the mind works, psychology and the master politico, Ben Fanklin. In addition to this favor requesting strategy, how about a favor giving strategy? Helping others out, looking for ways to add value to their lives might produce the same effects, no? I know you say add value at the end of your post – what about us adding value to the other person (first)?

    • There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact it’s usually a great idea. Everyone loves someone who provides value.

      But there are also times when it doesn’t work.

      Some very busy/successful/popular people already get a lot of value from people; they’re very used to having people do favors for them so when >you< do it, you're not going to be able to get their attention because that's their status quo.

      Using the Benjamin Franklin Effect would probably have a higher success ratio in this case if you want to get their attention.

  19. Kush Sharma says:

    I’ll be honest. Found this article pretty useless and boring. Ludvig could have made it interesting by citing some elaborated examples, but all he does is talk theory. I see no real application of this principle that could benefit me tremendously. You want someone’s attention, you get it by giving them some kind of value. There’s no free lunch. Them remembering you because they did a favor to you seems pretty obvious, but non conclusive towards anything else.

    • Thanks for your feedback. I’ll work on it next time.

      As for giving someone value:

      - You ARE giving them value. The value is in making them feel good about themselves. Like the commenter Abgrund said – make them feel special, like they’re the only person who can do it.

      You don’t have to SAY this to them, but it should be subcommunicated.

  20. you write very lucidly good Sir , I am half-way through reading this and cannot control my excitement… (about how many people I am going to trick like this :grin: )..

    • If you see yourself as “tricking” someone, you’re seeing it the wrong way and you’ll come off as creepy.

      Btw I read your other post about trying this in online dating/chatting.I’ve got no tips for doing that, because I’ve never tried it myself. Getting investment is 10x easier in real life. But my guess is this:

      - How invested do you think a girl is when she’s talking to a stranger on Chatroulette or some online chatting site? Not very invested at all.

      I think you’re tapping into the kind of places where people are hanging around for instant gratification and the minute they get bored the just click “NEXT” to get some new stimulation.

      • Pathetic Loser says:

        I didn’t mean to sound creepy…but I think I unintentionally did. Do you think this method would work with girls in real life?

        • Yes. It does. Check out some of the other answers in the top of the comment sections.

          And stop calling yourself Pathetic Loser / Loser. It’s better to be monomaniacal than self-defeating. :)

        • I know people who use this inappropriately and they come off as creepy, they are using it as a ‘technique’, which is always bad. Make no mistake it works, but for some unknown reason, people just don’t like this person. It needs to be somewhat sincere.

          Hitting on a girl cold can come off as awkward, but asking for her help in settling a bet, reaching for napkins at a bar, getting a females opinion on a “friend’s” girlfriend who is going on a cruise with a platonic guy friend etc… Its a simple but effective way of getting a ‘touch’ a contact, get her involved, thank her, move on.

          You now have something to reference when you happen to talk again. Another touch. Positive feedback, more information.

          Last night in line at the movies I asked the girls in front of us If we should buy our buddies ticket who, (getting their valuable opinion on the matter) has a history of no shows… it started a lively discussion. Made eye contact in theater and pointed to empty seat next to us, she laughed. Obviously there was no buddy coming, but we talked again after the movie.

  21. Wow. This is a great post. I remember the first time I noticed this effect when I was at a club and I asked a hot girl to hold my beer while I pulled up my pants then she took a sip and was dancing with me the rest of the night. This made it a lot more clear. Thanks for the post!

    • *teary eyes* so many possibilities …mainly, i won’t be a virgin anymore maybe… :( I’ll try this…

      • Yo dude check out what JoeyDaHustler and Mac wrote to me above. I asked the same thing.

        I tried this stuff out tonight at the club in two ways. 1 } I asked a girl if she could beer. Then i asked her to write a text for me to a friend. Then i asked her to answer my phone. Then i asked her for her number. Score!
        2} i was walking with my friends and we were on our way home from the club and we started talking to this group of chicks and they said they were going home but after we had walked with them for 10 min they “got invested” and decided it would be a good idea to follow us to än afterpartty.

        I did not get laid, but i got number and solid connection.

  22. Some other methods would be bait-and-switch, foot in the door technique, camel’s nose, stone soup, low-ball

  23. Killed it Ludvig! Dope post!

    Everything you said is spot in turning a simple meet and greet into a proper emotional investment, the best part is we know, NO ONE likes to have a bad investment so once they’re in, they’re in for good unless you give them a reason to not be!

    Cheers man!

    Side note: Pumped on the effort you went through to ensure this post made it bold & determined and Vic for letting you publish, always inspiring stuff!

    • Victor Pride says:

      “Side note: Pumped on the effort you went through to ensure this post made it bold & determined and Vic for letting you publish, always inspiring stuff!”

      Ludvig was a go-getter. He emailed me the first article 43 days ago and went through 3 or 4 or 5 no’s and rewrites before he got published.

      • Talk about persistence & dedication!

        All bloggers have a lot to learn from that right there and it’s pretty damn transferable to all aspects of life!

        P.S I’m a new reader and must say I definitely enjoy what I’ve read so far, very energetic writing style Vic!

        • Thank you Jackson.

          And as for B&D, a lot of bloggers could learn a thing or two from Vic. He’s passed the Sinatra test and made it the hard way. No bullshit, just killer content.

          • What is the Sinatra test?

          • yeah I am curious too, to know about the Sinatra test

          • I read about the Sinatra Test recently in the book “Made to Stick” by Chip & Dan Heath. Recommended book for anyone interested in writing or doing public speaking.

            It states that “if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere”, it’s taken from Frank Sinatra’s song New York New York.

            What I meant by it was that Vic has made it big in a competitive blogging niche.

  24. Archibald Belfrazzar says:

    Good stuff.

  25. I have been trying this method since last 2-3 hours , on random girls online who barely know me…I don’t see any miraculous results…I guess one has to be moderately intelligent too , to apply this fruitfully.

  26. In short, make people useful by giving them small (or big) things to do. (This especially applies if you are the “top dog.”) It provides them with a sense of value and worth. Good article!

  27. Good article Ludvig.

    One thing that is works for me is asking my clients: “Will you give me a call when you can’t make it?” Asking them “will you” and waiting for their answer to say: “Yes” creates some kind of commitment in them and they call/text if they want to cancel the session.

    That works much better than typical: “Please give us a call if you can’t make it”.

    • The level of commitment people feel to an obligation is proportional to their investment in it.

      At the lowest level, they are merely passive recipients (as in your example of “Please tell us…”)

      At the next level, they at least acknowledge an obligation (“I have read and accepted the end-user license terms”; “I pledge allegiance to the flag…”).

      If they make an explicit commitment to a definite action, they are more strongly bound (“Yes, I will call you…”)

      If they put their obligation in their own words, they will have a still stronger commitment to it. Thus a prospective employer does not ask, “Will you come to work on time;” they ask, “What does punctuality mean to you?”

      The highest level of commitment is attained when the person has already taken action or made a real sacrifice. Thus e.g. fraternities carry out punitive hazing; this is (to the victim) a kind of sunk cost. Certain motorcycle gangs require that an initiate commit a satisfactory felony, which requires the member not only to undertake risk but to choose his own crime and thereby define himself in relation to the group.

      So if you really want someone to feel obligated, have them write you a letter in their own words and someone else’s blood.

      • Abgrund,

        I’ve heard somewhere (I don’t remember where and I don’t know if research confirms that) that the more difficult is to enter certain group, the more a person feels attached to the group.

        As you mentioned some gangs (or schools) make it hard for others to “get in”.But the moment they are “in”, the case of belonging is greater.

        Hope it makes sense!

    • Yes Piotr.

      Always assume that your wanted outcome is going to happen.

  28. Ludvig Sunström,

    This advice is gold.

    I’m sure some of it took research, but if most of this is your own finding than I must say brother I’m fucking impressed.

    You have my vote +1 to write another guest post for B&D anytime in the future.

    Stay real,

    Mike C. – Mr. Veins

    P.S. – Ludvig, when’s a time (aside from emailing Vic.) in real life that you’ve used your own techniques listed above to get someone to do what you wanted? I’m curious my man.

    • Mine too. +1

      Hey mr veins, your website is also cool

    • Thank you Mike.

      Honestly, I do this stuff all the time. It’s a habit, I don’t think have to think about it that much. But some good examples might be:

      1. Finding a common interest with another person ASAP.
      2. Getting them to speak about it.
      3. Asking their advice and I write it down to show them that I am really serious about taking their advice to heart.
      4. I ask them to give me some recommendations (often on books, blogs – but it’s really arbitrary so long as it’s something that has to do with this shared interest). Often they borrow me these items or maybe send me PDFs or links.

      The point is, they’re investing into the interaction and start thinking it’s fun.

  29. Congratulations Ludvig Sunström. Best damn article in a while.

  30. This is a great post . Very useful and valuable information on the Greatest website in the world B&D. Congrads on getting the guest post .

  31. i wouldn’t get others do post their work here. I read two paragraphs and got bored. Stick to your style.

  32. 1. Interestingly, Dale Carnegie recommended essentially the same technique (with men, not women), although the theory was a little different. As I recall, the explanation was that asking a man for a favor builds his ego, which most men like – you are giving him credit for being superior in some way, at least momentarily. I use this technique all the time, stressing how much I need the help and how no one else can do it. It works great and frankly it works just as well on me, even though I know very well what is going on.

    2. When someone does you a favor, they feel that you owe them something in return – maybe very little, maybe just attention or approval – and this binds them to you. Just don’t betray their expectations, or you could turn a good friend into a worse enemy. So don’t ask someone for a /serious/ favor unless you have a good idea of their expectations.

    3. An important lesson I have learned is to gracefully accept sincere offers from other people, even if you don’t need them (not vague /pro forma/ offers, like “can I do anything?”). This is a double pull, because people are not only invested in you but they are grateful to you for accepting. But be aware of their expectations for return.

    4. Avoid offering people favors unless they’re likely to accept. Otherwise you come across as needing attention or approval. And therefore, never make offers you don’t intend to back up.

    5. If you want to influence people, show interest in them. Listen to what they say, respond to it, ask them about themselves, remember things about them if you can. I think it was Gil Gerard who said he always wrote down at least one salient fact about each potential customer, which he would find a way to bring up if he ever talked to them again. Sometimes it is said that everyone is special. This is bullshit, but everyone /wants/ to be special.

    • You make some good points Abgrund.

      ” I use this technique all the time, stressing how much I need the help and how no one else can do it”

      –> It’s hard to resist helping when it makes you feel “special”. This is the best thing.

      I read your other comment as well:

      “You’re assuming that the investment made by the other person is a /bad/ investment, and I think that most readers here aspire to better than parasitism. The object should be to get people involved, not to cheat them.”

      No I don’t.

      If I did this would never work for me because it would make me come off as ingenuine and people would spot it from a mile away and refuse to help me.

      But I can see how you might see it that way. It’s challenging to write a post like this without coming off as some grand manipulator.

      • “Sunk cost” can have different implication in different contexts. I think here the use of the word “fallacy” might be misleading; it can easily be taken to mean that the person who has incurred the cost has made a mistake.

        • I just re-read your post here Abgrund:

          ” If you want to influence people, show interest in them. Listen to what they say, respond to it, ask them about themselves, remember things about them if you can. I think it was Gil Gerard who said he ALWAYS WROTE DOWN AT LEAST ONE SALIENT FACT ABOUT EACH POTENTIAL CUSTOMER, which he would find a way to bring up if he ever talked to them again”

          —-> This is a great strategy. I like these actionable things that you can include easily into the daily routine. It adds up enormously over time through cumulation.

  33. You don’t necessarily have to get the other person to do things for you, it can also be that you want to establish your own behavior in a certain way and be perceived differently than usual, for example when moving to a new town. In either case, you must implement this behavior from the get-go.

    Can anyone give some examples on how to use this, I’m moving to a new town soon so I can put this into practice

    • I don’t know your situation so it’s a bit tough, but I’ll try.

      Be VERY clear in what you want areas of your life that you’d like to change and WHAT you will now do differently.

      Then make sure you behave in this manner…

      As for examples.
      When I stayed in Canada for a semester I wanted to immerse myself in pickup and social dynamics. So, starting on the plane ride over there I did a minimum of 3 cold approaches per day and collected numbers that I would then follow-up on. That way I already had native friends in Ottawa before I arrived (met them during plane ride) and didn’t feel forced to hang around other foreigners.

      The other people who I were there with (exchange students from other European countries) stuck together most of the time and never made many Canadian friends. They wondered how I knew so many people so quickly. But there was no magic in that, I just approached a lot of people everywhere I went as part of my daily routine.

      There’s also a flip side to this:

      Because I’d established a behavior of being very outgoing with the people I met there from the get-go, they expected me to be that way most of the time. This was a bit tough in the beginning, because I wasn’t. But by practicing daily I pretty soon was in a constant social mood.

      The key thing to learn from this is that if you build yourself up to be a certain (new) person, and you don’t deliver on it, people think you’re being inconsistent and weird.

    • It takes more to recreate yourself than a change of environment.

  34. Victor,
    The idea to publish other authors’ works is a step forward. It’s wise of you to share the platform.

  35. There are several good accounts of the Benjamin Franklin effect including this one at http://youarenotsosmart.com/2011/10/05/the-benjamin-franklin-effect/#more-1459. All of them explain the phenomenon as some form of post-justification or emotional investment, but I’m not sure this actually works. The trouble with post-justification is that it should operate on me whether someone asks me for a favor or I do somebody a favor on my own. I should also be equally emotionally invested in either case. Invariably, however, I am more invested in people if they request a favor from me than if I do the favor for them. For example, I lend books to students all the time. But I am far more invested in students’ projects if they ask me for specific books then if I simply offer them books based on my understanding of their work. I think we need a different explanation of this effect, unless I’m misunderstanding post-justification. Is it stronger than pre-justification?

    • Super cool post. thx..

      I don’t know if post/pre justification is stronger. But it is really a good question.

      Maybe the problem is not whether you post/pre justify the thing, but simply how much TIME YOU INVEST into it??

      Or maybe you get happy and initially like them more because THEY save YOU time by not having to even consider what books they have to use. Or maybe you just like their GO-GETTER-NESS.?

      they

      Do you work as a teacher/librarian?

  36. Hey, I’m a long-term reader but this is my first time commenting here.

    VERY cool stuff. I think B&D has been a bit too one-sided on money lately, so i really like the psychology / social dimension of this post.

    Great initiative to try something new Vic (and ludvig). More of this shit!

  37. Very nice article man. So lets say i hit on a girl and we have a fun conversation and then i ask her or she could tell me something about this city where it is fun to go out for example. She telling me this is basicly a light verbal investment/favor she is doing. So me letting her feel good creates this effect. I think this would be good for me to put in use. Because I probably invest to much sometimes and don’t leave any time to let the other person invest. This helps alot il try it out later on. Keep on the good work man. Cheers

    • Sounds like you know what to do.

      It’s usually a good idea to let the other person (especially girls) do the majority of the talking while you listen.

      “Because I probably invest to much sometimes and don’t leave any time to let the other person invest.”

      —- Yeah, this is so common. It’s easy to just focus on yourself and be like “I want to say this and this and this”, but keeping the conversation ratio even – or uneven to your advantage is usually a lot more beneficial.

  38. Hey Ludvig,
    Awesome post really. Love the idea of getting to people in invest in you.And more than that admire your confidence n aggressive spirit. Keep the good work going.

    All the luck
    Swati

  39. Great, Great Post!!!
    Come to think of it, my most successful relationships, both platonic and romantic, started with the Benjamin Franklin Effect! It all makes sense now. Thanks so much for this post. Now I cant wait to consciously apply it!!

  40. Solid post Ludwig. It’s a valuable item in my in your toolbox of charisma and persuasion. This is truly how the best relationships start.

  41. This post was good.
    @victor @ludvig : slightly off the topic – What are your thoughts on meditation for success in life? I have read it is a habit of elite people and there are many elite people swearing by it, that how good and effective it is blah blah. I have tried it for about 2 months but it surely hasn’t worked for me…what are your thoughts on meditation?

    • I do it daily for 10-20 minutes. I think it makes a big difference in mental focus, and thus in the enjoyment I derive out of doing things. Being distracted is the worst.

      You say you’ve tried it for 2 months, but have you done it consistently every day?

      IME, meditation has been one of the hardest habits I’ve ever implemented. But once it’s there it’s great. It’s just that the learning curve is very slow and unrewarding until you finally “get it”.

      But ultimately, you could be the world’s best meditator and it’s still not going to do anything (from a success standpoint) for you unless you take initiative in getting closer to your goals every day.

      • Ludvig, what kind of meditation do you do?

        • Nothing too fancy (I don’t know any cool meditation names).

          I mostly do two sorts of meditation:

          1. I just sit with an upright back and focus on not thinking for as long as possible. Instead I might focus on different sounds, how my body feels (great before working out), or on seeing an image in my head.

          2. As long as I’m comfortable my position doesn’t matter. I quiet my mind and wait for the first train of though to come up, then I pursue it for as long as possible and see where it takes me. I usually come up with some interesting ideas in doing so.

          The first is to improve concentration and get me focused. The second is to boost creativity.

          • I don’t know much about the different forms of meditation, but I’ve never had much success with meditating intentionally. I get bored or distracted pretty quickly if I try to empty my mind, or focus on something not interesting. On the other hand, what you describe as your second kind of meditation is basically my “resting” state of mind. I don’t do it on purpose; I can’t /not/ do it unless I’m working on a challenging task that requires my full attention.

            I sometimes suspect that the state of mind achieved during meditation is similar to “being in the zone”; the kind of total focus that forgets the self and becomes the application of body and mind to a single task. Or maybe it’s the opposite; if the mind is empty of thought, isn’t that about the same as watching television?

      • well thanks for the informative reply…I was consistent (more or less). Actually I came on the brink of failing an exam (which is really sad actually) because of meditation, as meditation causes a state of becoming worry -free and probably non-caring about your goals, which decreases productivity. But I guess, I’ll have to try it again after reading your views on it..

  42. This is one of those things that I’m incredibly interested in but part of me feels dirty for doing it. I don’t think it’s manipulative although some may argue it is. What would you tell someone who told you they think this is wrong?

    • Hey Vincent,
      I think that if you were to see it as manipulative it would show through to the other person, and you’d fail. I don’t believe in being able to manipulate people, at least not in the long-term.

      “What would you tell someone who told you they think this is wrong?”

      —> I’d ask them: “Why is it wrong?”
      Life is about making things happen, and the Benjamin Franklin Effect happens be an efficient way of doing just that. Therefore I see no problem in using it, especially since no one is being hurt.

    • I have no interest in explaining myself to people who think I am wrong. But if you actually want an answer, consider that all human relationships consist of people affecting each other’s behavior. Only an ignorant or undisciplined person can avoid making conscious decisions about other people’s reactions. If you deliberately manage your personal interactions to achieve principled goals, is that less ethical than letting your subconscious manipulate you and other people erratically for ends you don’t even acknowledge, bumbling randomly into people’s lives with no regard for the consequences?

      Consider further that most people are aware to some degree of what you are doing and why,and they go along because it fits their own goals. Ludvig is not talking about swindling people. As I said before, people use this kind of manipulative technique on me all the time, sometimes knowingly and sometimes not. I make my own choices for my own reasons and I accept that other people do the same.

  43. really good article! did you come up with this? Where did you first hear about this?

  44. Americans sure seem egocentric right about now. In Canada and everywhere else I’ve heard about, the phenomenon discussed is called the “foot in the door” effect. Just look it up yourself, its a basic beginner’s psychological term. Blogs I’ve seen written about it are usually from amateur writers and first year psychology students.

  45. This is something new… Good read Ludvig.

    Victor, does this mean that you will start aceepting guest posts? Is B&D now open for guest posts?

  46. Hi Ludvig,

    I love how you used the Benjamin Franklin Effect to get published here, writing a post about the exact same thing. I enjoyed the read and subscribed to your blog.

    Oskar

  47. Wow. I just realized this is how the last girl I dated managed to manipulate me. I thought I really “loved” her cause I had invested so much in my relationship with her for 1 year, even though deep down I knew she was a bitch and all my friends were telling me she was a no good, but at the time I thought “I’ve already gave her so much of me, I just can’t let her go”. Glad I eventually ditched the bitch before I totally lost control over things. I know this post is more about business, but be careful guys, according to my experience, and upon reading this post, I’ve just now come to the conclusion that women have “the Benjamin Franklin effect” hard wired into their brains from the get go, and they WILL use it to trap you into believing you want them. Thank you Victor, I’m always learning with you.

    • Oh I read it in a rush and didn’t get it that this was actually written by Ludvig, sorry about that. Cheers man, thank for the great read, I’ll definitely check out your blog!

      • I was burnt the same way by a girl like that years ago. Great learning experience. It’s a two-way street.

        I think all men must be burnt by a girl once in life in order to learn how to control their emotions and decisions pertaining to women/dating.

      • Thanks David.

        Investment is a funny thing. I’ve also had that happen to me and it still screw with my head a bit, but at least I know why, and it’s just like you say, this girl was a complete genious at getting guys to invest in her by thinking about her.

        You see the same thing with girls dating douchebags too though, so it’s not exclusive to women. But gold diggers are definitely masters at getting you to invest in them.

  48. Manipulation is done by EVERYBODY.

    However, conscious manipulation requires a skill that needs to be developed.

    I found that I do not like asking favors, as it binds me to fulfill a contract. I like to give favors but do not ask for returns.That’s why I left corporate, I do not want to be on the receiving end of the favor of my income stream.

    • Receiving favors is an important skill which was difficult for me to learn. It tends to make one feel indebted, and sometimes one /is/ indebted. But remember that you honor the giver by accepting the gift, and being unable to walk away from someone is a sacrifice often worth making.

      In some environments (e.g. politics) favors are just an economic trade, one without honor and where the value of favors may be weighed differently by giver and receiver. I don’t blame you for wanting out of that environment. But don’t let it taint other areas of your life. Most people are not psychopaths who are trying to exploit you with every “favor”.

  49. ‘The thinking part of their brain – the neocortex, is manipulated by the emotional part of their brain – the amygdala. In normal language that means that logic occurs after emotional desires and that they post-rationalize their behavior by coming up with logical explanations after they’ve done a thing.’

    This paragraph, and this post in general, is so true it’s actually scary. I’m thinking back to occasions when I’ve unwittingly seen both sides of this in my life. I feel like I’m having that Neo awakening in the matrix – like, man ‘I know Kung Fu!’. Great post, Ludvig!

  50. Great post Ludvig! You rock! The Benjamin Franklin effect is ineed interesting and seems like you are using this on me! Hahaha.

    I’ve been writing and talking about how to be visible or how to get noticed and surely this article is a great resource for anyone who wants to influence and make lasting impressions including the shy and the introvert- my cup of tea :) I will surely try this.

  51. Dear Victor,
    Since you take great pride in your writing and purport that all good writing should be free from errors of grammar and spelling, I would like to offer you a trial membership of my editing services. I am a retired schoolteacher who has excellent spelling, grammar and punctuation skills. I am a skilled editor. You need to be a pro from the get go, so don’t let another post get published without being edited by a professional. I am happy to provide you one free edit for your next post. I am sure you will be pleased with my services, and my reasonable rates are available upon request. Just use the email provided to you by the commenting process in wordpress to reach me.

    Looking forward to being your remote editor.

    Diane

  52. awesome post….can this be used to seduce women?

  53. Solid post. This site gets me rock solid every time I visit.

  54. They say Victor Pride eats fried lion meat for breakfast after hunting them himself and wipes his muscular cheeks with steel wool after taking a two flush megacrap every morning and uses the bones of weak men and feminists as toothpicks. For the sake of masculinity everywhere stay killing it Vic! America is as queer as a three dollar bill but every time I come back I have to admit that buying your books was worth every penny. My blogs are getting consistent traffic and it is only a matter of time before I have enough cash saved up from other online and offline ventures to go pro from the get-go. Right now I’m just practicing. I have a special post just for you. Enjoy.

    http://yourthoughttank.blogspot.com/2013/09/be-tiger-instead.html

  55. Really interesting post. I’ve always been able to influence people but i haven’t really tried this method. I’m going to try it and see how far I can go before someone can say now.

  56. hey victor, loving your site, i recently bought body of a spartan [under an alt] and loved it.

    I have read this article numerous times and have even used it just this week actually to generate interest with a girl.

    my one and only question is, what was the one little tweak you made to Ludvig’s writing to make it have more of an impact?

    i have made an intention to start a blog [under yet another alias] but cracking how to write well is very important to my future goals [sales copy, emails, articles, etc etc]

    • Victor Pride says:

      Ludvig’s original draft was very scientific, very technical. I asked him to re-write it as if he were writing for a very good friend that he wanted to explain this concept to.

  57. I haven’t even read the article yet but I already love how the entire premise is backed by the existence of the article itself. It lends credence to what he is saying before Mr. Sunström even types his first word!

  58. This is incredibly interesting, I have been studying the subconscious mind and how it works so this follows along with that perfectly! I also noticed that I am the one who never asks anyone for a favors for fear of pushing them away…..I think I will change that:) I love learning new ways to succeed!!
    Thank you!

  59. Good thing you persisted and got the favor, Ludvig. But you did really pay it off. Fascinating post. @Mack – your comment about women and investment is unfortunately true. Do men not have the same investment issue?

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