Not everyone is going to be your best friend. But Benjamin Franklin has you covered there. In his wisdom he suggested that instead of distancing yourself from your enemies, you should keep them close. It’s an familiar concept with an interesting twist. Think about it: when you discover that someone may not be particularly fond of you, it’s not like you’d invite them to dinner or chat up a conversation, right? But Franklin suggests you do exactly the opposite. He recommends that you ask the people who dislike you to do you a favor. Strange at first, I know.
The roots of the phenomena are based in cognitive dissonance. This term refers to the human tendency to hate hypocrisy. We want our actions to be in accordance with our beliefs and attitudes. For example, you might experience cognitive dissonance if you smoke because you know that it is expensive and it may give you cancer. You might reason with yourself then; saying “I don’t smoke that often,” or “well, that won’t happen to me because cancer doesn’t run in my family.” Tell yourself what you will; no one likes to feel uneasy about the personal choices they make.
The same concept applies when we ask our enemies to help us out. It must be confusing when they think, “I don’t like her yet she wants to borrow a book from me? This is puzzling.” But because most people don’t want to give an outright “no” to something as innocent and simple as borrowing a book per se, they’ll have to reason with themselves for why they would want help a frien-enemy in such a way.
So next time you find yourself in a bind with someone who may not have the friend-hots for you, ask them to do a kind little favor that’s not excessive or overbearing. I know, I’m a little skeptical myself but I’ll try it if you try it. And hey, there must be a reason why Benjamin’s the face of the 100 dollar bill, right?