Ben Franklin's Insight

Feb 25, 2010

A secret to being more revered than resented, he learned, was to display (At least when he could muster the discipline) a self-deprecating humor, unpretentious demeanor, and unaggressive style in conversation. (p. 42)

Would you win the hearts of others, you must not seem to vie with them, but to admire them. Give them every opportunity of displaying their own qualifications, and when you have indulged their vanity, they will praise you in turn and prefer you above others .. Such is the vanity of mankind that minding what others say is a much surer way of pleasing them than talking well ourselves. (p. 57)

“The vexation they both feel is visible in their looks and gestures; you shall see them gape and stare and interrupt one another at every turn, and watch with utmost impatience for a cough of pause, when they may crowd a word in edgeways” (p. 57)

People were reluctant to support a “proposer of any useful project that might be supposed to raise one’s reputation”. People will eventually give you the credit, he noted, if you don’t try to claim it at the time.

from Benjamin Franklin, An American Life  (