Ben Franklin on Turning Enemies into Friends

The core of my new book, Don’t Take the Bait to Escalate, is 21 different case studies of conflicts that were wonderfully resolved. Including hitting bottom in your marriage, business blunders, fist-fighting friends, honoring bridezillas, a scene from “Home Alone,” how JFK avoided World War III, a life lesson from Harriet Tubman, and when Jesus drew in the sand.

The case studies all demonstrate how using the Four Factors” will almost always de-escalate conflict.

Two bonus chapters in the book reveal “Skills to Build” and “Tactics and Tricks.” Some of those ideas you’ll find useful for resolving a recent urgent conflict. Or one strategy — as demonstrated by our friend Ben Franklin — can even turn a long-time nemesis into a trusted friend.

Please enjoy and employ this short excerpt from page 165 of Don’t Take the Bait to Escalate: Conflict is Inevitable. Being a Jerk is Optional. (Salem Books, 2022)
Ask a Favor

This strategy, known as “The Ben Franklin Effect,” is designed to establish a long-term relationship with an adversary. As the story goes, Benjamin Franklin once wanted to gain influence over a rival he knew was a book lover. The man was surprised when Franklin asked to borrow a rare book, but still he honored the request. Franklin thanked him graciously, kept the book about a week, and returned it in pristine condition, heaping on even more sincere gratitude. The man who had never wanted to speak to him before would become a dear friend for life. To quote Franklin: “He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another than he whom you yourself have obliged.”

Of course, if that doesn’t work, you could peel a hundred dollar bill from your bankroll and see if you can buy a best friend. But I don’t recommend that strategy.

Are you currently in a conflict — urgent or long-simmering? I promise the book has a strategy that will help you actually love your enemy.

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