Benjamin Franklin was one of the greatest men in the history of America. But apart from his political role, he played an integral role in many scientific, social, and psychological discoveries. His writings have become famous and well-read parts of our history. Some of his greatest discoveries, such as his theories about electricity, have overshadowed his more humanistic discoveries. We will talk about one of these lesser-known discoveries today, and how it can help you be more successful in finding and maintaining a career.
Have you ever heard of the Benjamin Franklin Effect? Even if you haven’t, you probably have noticed it without even realizing it. While Ben isn’t the first person to notice this effect, he was the first to publicly acknowledge its existence and write about it. Basically, this is what happens in the Benjamin Franklin Effect: If you allow someone to help you, they are more likely to help you later. Conversely, if you allow someone to harm you, they are most likely to harm you again without retaliation on your part. We will focus on the former part of the Effect in this article and how you can use it to your advantage in forming a career.
To demonstrate how the Benjamin Franklin Effect works, let’s use an experience from the man himself. In his biography, Ben wrote about another political leader that had shown animosity towards Ben. Instead of confronting him head on about the issue, Ben tried another tactic. He heard that this peer owned a rare book that he wanted to read. Ben wrote him a letter expressing a wish to read the book and asking the man the favor of borrowing it. The man sent the book over immediately. About a week later, Ben sent the book back and wrote a letter expressing profuse thanks. After that, the man began speaking to Ben in public and later on they developed a friendship which lasted until the death of the man.
Many people think that by serving others you can build their trust. While this certainly may be true, the process is incomplete unless you allow them to serve you as well. When seeking a job, and especially in the workplace, you will find ample opportunity to put this to the test. In an interview, this translates as you asking insightful but genuine questions about the position, benefits offered, and what everyday work life is like. Many people are afraid to ask questions because it would make them look weak. This isn’t the case. By asking questions and showing respect and need for the information that the interview has, you will win their respect in return.
This Benjamin Franklin Effect can also play a crucial role in your first few days on the job. By treating your coworkers and supervisors respectfully, you will gain their respect in return. It’s ok to ask for help from others at anytime as you learn the ropes of a new job. Just make sure whatever help you ask for is something relevant and necessary. There is one caution that goes along with trying to produce the Benjamin Franklin Effect. The man himself said it best when he created this aphorism: “Guests, like fish begin to smell after three days.” Basically, ask for help but don’t take advantage of others, be genuine and sincere. Give it a try, and see if one of history’s greatest figures really knew what he was talking about!