Thoughts + Articles

Turning Enemies Into Friends: The Ben Franklin Effect

Is it possible to turn an enemy into someone who pays you the respect you deserve? Can you build a strong positive relationship with your enemy?

Benjamin Franklin was a Founding Father of the U.S. On July 1, 1731, Benjamin Franklin and his friends, his mastermind members, began The Library Company of Philadelphia. The first free library for borrowing books.

He was the only founding father to sign all four of the key documents establishing the U.S.: The Declaration of Independence (1776), the Treaty of Alliance with France (1778), the Treaty of Paris establishing peace with Great Britain (1783) and the U.S. Constitution (1787).

In 1736, Benjamin Franklin was “chosen” without opposition as a clerk of the General Assembly in the Pennsylvania legislature. The next year, a new influential member of the legislature gave “a long speech” against Franklin favoring Franklin’s opponent.

Despite the speech against him, Franklin was chosen to continue as clerk of the General Assembly. He also served the state house via his printing business. (Franklin’s company secured the printing business for all of “the votes, laws, paper money, and other occasional jobs for the public.”)

Franklin chose a strategic path focusing on building a relationship with this adversarial member by taking an interest in what he was interested in. (Finding common ground with him!)

Franklin heard that this vocal, yet influential opponent, “had in his library a certain very scarce and curious book.”

Franklin: “I wrote a note to him, expressing my desire of perusing that book, and requested that he would do me the favour of lending it to me for a few days.”

Franklin revealed an astounding outcome of this event in his memoir. “He sent it immediately; and I returned it in about a week with another note, expressing strongly my sense of the favour. When we next met in the house, he spoke to me (which he had never done before), and with great civility; and he ever after manifested a readiness to serve me on all occasions, so that we became great friends, and our friendship continued to his death.”

Instead of avoiding a confrontational advisory, Franklin took an interest in something that this gentleman was passionate about. This technique is used countless times every day by leaders and other influential people.

We all have situations where we have avoided a conversation or opponent. Are you willing to humble yourself to ask a favor of someone?

What would happen if you decided to “tune in” to some of their interests? You may be able to build a fantastic bridge that could last a lifetime.

Madeline Frank, Ph.D., is an Best Selling Author, speaker, business owner, teacher, John Maxwell Team Member, concert artist, and parent. She helps businesses and organizations “Tune Up their Business”. Her observations show you the blue prints necessary to improve and keep your business successful. Her latest book “Leadership On A Shoestring Budget” is available everywhere books are sold. If you need a speaker contact Madeline at:

This entry was posted on Friday, September 4th, 2020 at 4:47 pm and is filed under Articles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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