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How favours can win over the haters

20th November, 2023

How favours can win over the haters

One of my favourite quotes ever is from Brené Brown:

 

‘Don’t try to win over the haters.  You’re not a jackass whisperer.’

 

A great reminder if we’re trying too hard to bend or mould ourselves to please others.  

 

But, at some point in our careers, most of us have to learn to rub along with difficult people.

 

Spiky people. Passive aggressive people.  People who write things like ‘Ccing in your manager for clarification purposes’ or ‘Kindly note’. (It’s never kind.)

 

So, when I saw this blog from the brilliant personal branding expert Jennifer Holloway, I had to share it with you.

 

She suggests making the most of the ‘Benjamin Franklin Effect (BFE)’  – i.e. asking someone who isn’t your greatest fan for a favour.

 

She writes:

 

‘Though it seems illogical that asking a favour of someone who hates you can lead to them liking you (surely they’d just be more peeved you were bothering them), it’s precisely that illogic that lies at the heart of the BFE.

 

‘That mismatch between our perceptions (we dislike the person) and our actions (a favour is something we do for a friend) is known as cognitive dissonance.

 

And when our brain is faced with that dissonance, it does what it can to smooth things over – in this case thinking:

 

“Well, if I change my perception from disliking this person to liking this person, then the action of doing them a favour fits right in.’

 

Jennifer says even small favours work, like ‘asking someone who dislikes you what time it is or to lend you their stapler’.

 

But you can also see even bigger relationship shifts by asking for a bigger favour e.g. asking them to sense-check a piece of work you’ve written.

 

I’ve always thought that you can get far further with honey than with vinegar.  So I’m going to test out this favour approach.  

 

Not that I know any difficult people, of course…

 

How about you?  (Do read the full blog – it’s well worth it.)

accenture
UBS
Ricoh
Euromoney
University of Cambridge

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