Benjamin Franklin’s love of learning and self-improvement is inspirational. In his autobiography, he talks about a self-improvement club that he formed with like-minded people. The club, which they called JUNTO, met Friday evenings. The agenda?
The rules that I drew up required that every member, in his turn, should produce one of more queries on any point of Morals, Politics, or Natural Philosophy, to be discuss’d by the company; and once in three months produce and read an essay of his own writing, on any subject he pleased.
Taking the time to think about and discuss some of the things that really matter, instead of being consumed by the minutae of daily existence is something as relevant today as it was all those years ago.
To make the most of these meetings, JUNTO followed certain principles that enabled the pursuit of truth.
Our debates were to be made under the direction of a president, and to be conducted in the sincere spirit of inquiry after truth, without fondness for dispute, or desire of victory; and to prevent warmth, all expressions of positiveness in opinions, or direct contradiction, were after some time made contraband, and prohibited under small pecuniary peculiarities.
These principles remain timeless, and the wise try to follow all these commandments. But forceful communication and surety seem to be encouraged, or tolerated, more often today. “Positiveness of opinion” can mistakenly attributed to confidence.
And yet, modern research echoes Franklin’s timeless wisdom that “power-less” communication, characterized by “asking questions than offering answers, talking tentatively than talking boldly, admitting their weaknesses than displaying their strengths, and seeking advice than imposing their views on others” is a more sustainable path to building prestige and influence, instead of forceful “there are no gaps in my thinking,” style of communication.
Do you know anyone who is feeling the pressure to be more “power-ful” in their communication? Do share this post with them! Also, if this post resonated with you, you may also like:
- The really powerful communication is “power-less” communication – A lesson by Benjamin Franklin and Adam Grant
- And here’s one of my favorite authors Gretchen Rubin recounting the story, “The Wind and the Sun.” (Again, the wind’s “powerful” communication fails to persuade.)