We all know the quote:
“‘Tis Better to Receive Than to Give” Right?*
That’s why every kid has a hard time going to sleep on Christmas eve and why we keep hoping to get an envelope from nana with a two dollar bill in it.
But did you know that getting presents from people also draws them nearer to you?
It’s true and its one of the reasons that I encourage people to get and give presents to their friends even past the age when American adults stop exchanging presents.
The Ben Franklin Effect
The idea is an old one but modern studies have supported it. Ben Franklin noted an exchange in his autobiography with another legislator who disliked him.
Ben found out that the gentlemen owned a rare book that Ben wanted to read and so he asked to borrow it. After he borrowed and returned the book Ben took a little bit of effort to express his appreciation for the favor and afterwards the gentleman warmed to him.
The act of having done the favor for Mr. Franklin thawed out the dislike of the other gentleman.
The idea has since been studied by psychologists and the theory is that, when we do someone a favor, we tell ourselves stories about why we are doing it. People want to be consistent. So, if they are doing you a favor, it must be because they like you, right? Or because you are a great guy or somehing similar right?
The helper makes themselves more likely to help you in the future by trying to be consistent.
Asking For Presents
This is interesting because I was just writing yesterday about how a direct request for a gift is likely going to be granted. I could just imagine my readers’ complaint, though: won’t the gift-giver resent being pushed into giving a present?
Not at all.
The Ben Franklin effect means that (within reason) if you ask someone do to you a favor they will like you more for having done it.
Rather than gift giving being only an expression of a friendship you can also use it to strengthen the bonds between you and your friends.
Advanced Technique for Group Presents
As a parting thought since I was writing about how to organize a group gift yesterday the Ben Franklin can be used for that effort too.
It’s easiest to start with a small request: just get your friend to agree that the idea is a good idea. That is a small thing to ask. Then you can ask if they will help you pick the color or the model of the gift that your giftee will like best – taking a little more effort. Then you can ask for the contribution to the group gift and, because your friend agreed to the first two requests they are more likely to say yest to the third.
Of course, a one-step direct request for help will most likely get a ‘yes’, but if your friend has less enthusiasm for the project than you do or if you just need help getting over your own embarrassment to ask this process makes things easier.
So don’t be shy: widen the circle of friends with who you exchange gifts – or widen the circle of family to those you don’t see or interact with very much. Invite them to a birthday or Christmas part and ask them for something.
If you’re still hesitant to ask for a gift from a friend who hasn’t given you a gift in a while (or ever) click over here to read my article about how gift price doesn’t really matter much for making a gift effective.
*Of course the actual quote is “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” I just wanted to get your attention. I’ll have an article tomorrow on how modern findings demonstrate that, besides being good for your soul, giving to others is good for your health and happiness.