Benjamin Franklin’s Approach

Benjamin Franklin offered this advice that not only reduces stress from disappointments but increases your effectiveness: “Present your thoughts not as ultimatums but as suggestions to be considered.” 

He wrote that he made it a rule to forbear all direct contradictions of others and all positive assertions of his own.

He even forbade himself the use of every word or expression that imported an opinion, such as “certainly’’ and “undoubtedly.” Instead he used expressions such as, “I conceive,” and “I imagine” a thing to be so and so.

When someone asserted something that Franklin thought to be an error or wrong, he denied himself the pleasure of contradicting the person even though he knew he was right.

Here’s what he concluded after adopting this approach:

“I think it principally owing to this habit that I had earned so much weight with my fellow citizens—for I was a bad speaker, never eloquent, subject to much hesitation in my choice of words, hardly correct in language, and yet I generally carried my points.”

Tip: When attempting to influence others, reflect on the question, “Is what I am going to say bringing me closer or further from my objective?”