He went from playboy to poster boy for the US Treasury.
He was a superstar (with drugs and groupies!) of his time.
He was a renowned scientist and famed diplomat (and boudoir legend during his time as US Ambassador to France).
He was also chubby, bespectacled, balding and ineloquent.
So how can a dude who looks like this, do all that?
Let Benjamin Franklin tell you:
“I made it a rule to forbear all direct contradictions to the sentiments of others, and all positive assertions of my own. I even forbade myself the use of every word or expression in the language that imported a fixed opinion, such as ‘certainly,’ ‘undoubtedly’, etc. I adopted instead of them ‘I conceive’, ‘I apprehend’, or ‘I imagine a thing to be so-and-so’, or ‘it so appears to me at present’.
When another asserted something that I thought an error, I denied myself the pleasure of contradicting him abruptly, and showing immediately some absurdity in his proposition. And, in answering, I began by observing that in certain cases or circumstances, his opinion would be right, but in the present case there appeared to me to be some difference, etc.
I soon found the advantage of this change in my manner. The conversations I engaged in went on more pleasantly. The modest way in which I proposed my opinions procured them a readier reception and less contradiction.
I had less mortification when I was found to be in the wrong, and I more eagerly prevailed with others to give up their mistakes and join with me when I happened to be in the right.
And this mode which I at first put on with some violence to natural inclination, because at length so easy and so habitual to me, that perhaps for these fifty years past, no one has ever heard a dogmatic expression escape me. And to this habit I think it principally owing that I had early so much weight with my fellow citizens when I proposed new institutions, or alterations in the old, and so much influence in public councils when I became a member.
For I was such a bad speaker, never eloquent, subject to hesitation in my choice of words, hardly correct in language and yet I generally carried my point.” (from his autobiography)
Ben Franklin gained the respect, esteem and fellowship of colleagues and opponents alike because he practiced “friction-less” interactions with people.
It worked for him.
It’ll work for you.
Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment. – Benjamin Franklin
Dr. Duff Watkins is Director of ExecSearch International and a former psychotherapist.