Sunday, March 11, 2012

People to Avoid

One component of success is avoiding those who will ultimately avoid success. Benjamin Franklin described that kind of person very pointedly. He gave four things to look for in the person's behavior. Mark Bowser first brought these to my attention.

1.  Whenever possible, they engross the whole discourse; and when other matter fails, they talk much of themselves, and their Education, Knowledge, Circumstances, Successes in Business, Victories in Disputes, their own wise Sayings and Observations on particular Occasions. It goes on and on.

2.  If anyone tries to seize the opportunity of saying something, they watch that person's words carefully. If possible, they find something either in that person's sentiment or expression, immediately to contradict and raise a dispute upon. Rather than fail, they criticize even the person's grammar.

3.  If another should be saying an indisputably good thing; they either give no attention to it; or interrupt him; or draw away the attention of others. If they can guess what he would say, they are quick to say it before him; or, if he gets it said, and they perceive the company is pleased with it, they quote Locke, Bayle, or some other eminent writer. Thus they deprive him of the reputation he might have gained by it, and gain some for themselves, as they thereby show their great reading and memory.

4.  When modest men have been thus treated by them a few times, they will chase ever after them to be silent in your company. They thus seek to shine on without fear of a rival; pressing modest people at the same time for their dullness, which will be to them a new fund of wit.

Read Mark's discussion of these four points: