Debating Like Ben Franklin

Portrait of Benjamin Franklin
Image via Wikipedia

Russ at Imago Christi offers some insightful analysis of how Benjamin Franklin changed his argument and debate tactics after a friend told him he came across as prideful.

Franklin stated that this was clearly seen in his disregard to the opinions of others. He purposed to fix this by not contradicting directly others beliefs and not making any positive assertions of his own. He changed every word or expression that conveyed a fixed opinion such as “certainly” and “undoubtedly” to “it appears to me” or “I believe.” When a person asserted something that he though was wrong, rather than allowing himself the pleasure of contradicting him abruptly, he strove to hear him out and then to humbly show why that opinion might not be suitable in that situation.

Franklin said that when he adopted this rule his conversations went on more pleasantly, his friends were more ready to accept his opinions, and it also helped him to admit when he was wrong.

That sounds like wise advice!

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