I made it a rule to forbear all direct contradictions to the sentiments
of others, and all positive assertion of my own. I even forbade myself the use
of every word or expression in the language that imported a fixed opinion, such
as "certainly", "undoubtedly", etc. I adopted instead of them "I conceive",
"I apprehend", or "I imagine" a thing to be so or so; or "so it appears to me
When another asserted something that I thought an error, I denied
myself the pleasure of contradicting him abruptly, and of showing him
immediately some absurdity in his proposition. In answering I began by
observing that in certain cases or circumstances his opinion would be right,
but in the present case there appeared or semed to me some difference, etc.
I soon found the advantage of this change in my manner; the
conversations I engaged in went on more pleasantly. The modest way in which I
proposed my opinions procured them a readier reception and less contradiction.
I had less mortification when I was found to be in the wrong, and I more easily
prevailed with others to give up their mistakes and join with me when I
happened to be in the right.
- -- Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin