Do you ever ask for advice? If not, you should. Asking for advice is one of my favorite, most-overlooked people hacks because it helps you learn new things and bond with people. Check out my video to find out how:

Advice is powerful and I want to hear yours.

Right now, I’m trying to grow my Youtube channel. Is there anything that we should do more of? I would be so grateful if you tweet me your ideas @Vvanedwards.

Keep reading for more tips on how to strengthen bonds by asking for advice.

The Franklin Effect

While we typically only ask for advice from the people closest to us, there is immense value in asking advice from people whom we want to get closer to. The bonding power of asking someone for help is so great that you can use it to turn an enemy into a friend.

This is known as the Franklin Effect. It states that when you ask someone for help it makes them like you and want to help you more. Benjamin Franklin came up with this theory as he struggled to deal with a rival senator who he couldn’t get along with. When he heard that his rival was a passionate reader and had a rare book that he was interested in reading, he asked him for the book, read it, and returned it with a sincere note expressing his appreciation for letting him borrow it. Following that, the two became close friends.

Even though asking to borrow the book was a simple request, it did two important things:

  1. It showed that Franklin had something in common with his rival. Likewise, when you ask for advice, you point out a shared interest with the other person.
  2. It put Franklin’s rival in a position to help him. As social creatures, we feel good when we help others and those positive feelings establish a bond.

The Franklin Effect proves that asking someone about a topic they care about can transform your relationship with them.

Get the Most Out of Your Requests for Advice

Asking for advice isn’t difficult, but there are some things you should keep in mind to elicit the best possible response.

#1 Make it Personal

To maximize the bonding power of your request, tell people why you chose them to ask for advice from. The more context you can add to your request the better.

Here are some examples:

  • They have a leadership style you admire.
  • They’ve accomplished something you are trying to achieve.
  • In the past their insights have helped you through difficult situations.

Including the reason why you want their advice allows you to begin your request with a compliment and shows that you value their opinion.

#2 Ask Something Specific

Though people are usually more than happy to offer advice, they are also busy and don’t have time to waste answering vague, confusing questions. Before asking for advice, keep these rules in mind:

  • Don’t ask for general advice.
  • Don’t ask to pick someone’s brain.
  • Don’t ask about a hypothetical situation.

People are much more likely to give you the advice you need if you target something specific. Here are some examples of specific questions that you can adapt for your situation:

  • How would you approach dealing with [specific problem you are struggling with]?
  • I’m struggling with [insert struggle], and I think [idea] might be a solution. What do you think?
  • I recieved [description of difficult message], do you have any advice on how I should respond? 

#3 Express Your Gratitude

After someone gives you advice, thank them for their valuable insights and tell them how you plan on implementing their advice. People often forget about the second part but it is crucial for relationship-building because it shows that you value their time and expertise.

#4 Follow-Up With Actions

After acting on someone’s advice, let them know how well it worked. Doing so gives them a sense of pride in your accomplishment and allows both of you to bond over your success.

If their advice didn’t work, follow-up thanking them for their insights again and share with them what you learned from the experience of their advice not working or just the outcome of your situation so they know how it turned out.

About Vanessa Van Edwards

About Vanessa Van Edwards

Lead Investigator, Science of People

I'm the author of the national bestselling book Captivate, creator of People School, and behavioral investigator.

I’ve always wanted to know how people work, and that’s what Science of People is about. What drives our behavior? Why do people act the way they do? And most importantly, can you predict and change behavior to be more successful? I think the answer is yes. More about Vanessa.

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