Monday, December 15, 2008

Law 4: Always say less than necessary

“Knowledge is Power”, this is probably one of the most famous sayings in modern world. We humans love to think, reason, and interpret. As the book 48 laws of power would put it: “Humans are machines of interpretation and explanation; they have to know what you are thinking.” This is the fundamental principal behind the fourth law. The more you talk, the more information you give away and thus, the more your power decreases. This is because by talking, we reveal our intentions, biases, quirks and personality (basically, we reveal who we are). When this information reaches the ears of other people, it can be used to stop your plans, it can be used against you or it can be used to gain your favor.

On the other hand, when we say less than necessary, we put others on the defensive. The silence will make them uncomfortable and as a result, they will try to fill in the void with comment and talk. In the process they will reveal something about themselves, which you can later use against them.

When King Louis XIV was in court, he would say very little. All he would say is “I shall see”; then without telling anyone, he would implement whatever he decides. His officials did not know what he wanted; as a result, the officials ended up talking more in an attempt to convince the king on their stand. They had to do this because they did not know what the king wanted, so they are unable to make decisions based on the king’s wishes. They were uncomfortable around the king because of his silence. As a result, they said a lot more thus exposing their own beliefs to the king. King Louis XIV would then use their words against them.

Words once uttered cannot be returned so choose your words carefully.

Sean Co
Hi 18 K


Ria said...

I think this law can have both great potential as well as horrible consequences. Like mentioned in the post, people are forever searching for the true meaning of things, always questioning and looking and interpreting and such. While saying less then necessary does make a person or a leader seem mysterious, it also puts people on the defensive. If a person wants to gain power, he or she should be able to make others put down his or her defenses. This law has the potential to do the opposite. And when people put their defenses up, well, things can start going downhill from there. They start spying and digging and that's never a good thing when you're in power or searching for it.

I do however see the need and the rationale behind this law; people should only be told what they need to know. It makes things less complicated. Even when talking with friends, sometimes saying less makes things easier to deal with.

I suppose when dealing with this law, people should be careful to gauge just how much should be said. Saying too little will make people look for answers on their own, and saying too much will expose you.

Ria Rigoroso
Hi 18 - K

Anonymous said...

although this law has wisdom in it and is very useful, some people think of those who don't say much as either meek, dull, stupid, cold or fishy. So whenever you DO say something, make sure it's worth saying else you will be mistaken for the first 3 descriptions.

Making others uncomfortable by being too silent will also make them suspicious of you: they'd think, why am i always the one talking while i know nothing about him? You shouldn't make others too uncomfortable else they'd think you were thinking bad thoughts about them, silent as you are. So when you don't trust someone, i think you should feel free to talk with him, but only say inconsequential things or keep asking questions while revealing nothing of your true self.

monica ang L

Anonymous said...

you really should not say more than what is necessary because when you talk and talk, you increase the chances of spilling useful or important information, information that other people can use to their advantage. that is why, one must say less than necessary. in that way, you can keep an eye on the things you say and not spill to much. if you say to much things, you can make other people know more about you and what you think. in effect, they can get an idea of how to bring you down, how to use you, how to attack you, etc. this law can also can be connected to law 17 which speaks of unpredictability. if you don't speak much, you are being unpredictable. this allows you to be in charge because you hold things that other people want to know but do not know yet. people will then not know for sure how to approach you because they don't know much about you.

however, this law cannot be taken to extreme because if you say very little, other people might not trust you. in this world we live in today, having connections is important. we have to build strong ties with other people too in order to be successful.

balance is a key factor in this law.

-Philip Albert T. Verde
Hi18 K

Anonymous said...

I agree with what has been said so far. Just because the law says we say less than necessary doesn't imply that we hardly say anything at all. It just means we should be careful about what we say.

That said, I will quote a part of my blog entry (Law 33: Discover each man's thumbscrew), As Freud said, “No mortal can keep a secret. If his lips are silent, he chatters with his fingertips; betrayal oozes out of him at every pore.”

So what does this say? Even if we say less than necessary, we still give away a lot of things. How do we guard against that?

theresa rosario tan

Anonymous said...

Baymmm! I so agree with this law. Sometimes when you're being too tactless, you say something unconciously - Freudian slip I may say. And this may or may not incur the ire of the person you are talking to. The person thinks of you wrongly in the long run. When you say too much also, you are giving yourself away outright. The other may use it to manipulate you, your thoughts and emotions. Leave some mystery behind. Silence, I have realized, can save you from all the trouble.

Rhea Entuna

Anonymous said...

The more you talk, the more you have chances to gain and lose favorable impression from other people. Talking a lot is both advantage and disadvantage in this sense. But I strongly agree on the statement metioned, "the more you talk, the more information you give away and thus, the more your power decreases". Strictly speaking, giving information to others would mean an advantage for them, and at the same time, a disadvantage for the speaker. Giving information would lessen the "extra-special" ideas that you have. Always saying only the necessary things might make a person very businesslike and less emotional, but this will somehow guarantee not giving away any important ideas and information unintentionally.

Yu Chin Hong

Anonymous said...

I want to emphasize that verbal language is not the lone element in communicating with other people. Sometimes, body language could be more indicative of a person's mood or feelings towards a person or a subject matter. So I wouldn't say that silence is better in all situations.

But then again, during heated arguments, I believe that it would be better for everyone to utter less than what is necessary. Oftentimes, raging emotions get the best of a person that he/she tends to say callous things. His/her opponent would ultimately know all his/her intentions and would eventually find out how his/her mind works. Thus, in the end, the person who spoke the most loses.

Monica Copuyoc
Hi18- L

chiocebrero said...

I agree with this law. By choosing your words carefully, you choose not to reveal yourself too much. Putting up a front prevents us from exposing our weaknesses and from letting others take advantage of you.

Intelligence agencies exist for this reason. Concealing information is just as important as revealing information. Just imagine if the CIA were to spill every single terrorist attack threat to the American public. Or (hypothetically speaking) if aliens did exist and the CIA decides to reveal the information to the public. Concealing information--at least in these cases--is important to prevent social unrest and to let those who can actually utilize the information work on their own without fear of letting the public getting in their way.

Chio Cebrero
Hi 18 L

Anonymous said...

i personally believe this law. that's why people always ask me why i never make kwento about myself. my answer is always: you never ask me the right questions. it's a matter of knowing what to say and when to say it, i guess.

ocampo 18-k

the_dood_abides said...

I agree with this law, there's more weight placed on a man with few words. As for me, I'm always impressed when someone can express himself in a few words, or how someone can push a point with little of no effort and without much elaboration.

Saying less than necessary makes every word meaningful, unless of course the one talking is trying to crack a joke.

On the quest for power, an impression lasts. Knowing the right words and when to say it is a valuable skill. But I'm having trouble understanding what is "necessary."

Denis Flores
Hi 18k

Mara said...

I see it as a card game. It’s just like not showing your cards to everyone on the table. Whatever edge you want over them, they want the same over you too. But I agree with Monica, the verbal aspect is not the only that can make you lose your advantage over someone. Going back to my example, you also have to be attentive in their gestures, actions, and words. Don’t expose yourself too much because you leave yourself vulnerable enough for people to take advantage of you. Remember that showing less is always more.

Mara Liboro

Anonymous said...

i think in a way this also isn't good because as what others have said, communication is important. i agree that saying less is better than saying so much, but saying less THAN NECESSARY might create problems such as miscommunication.

jaclyn yap
hi18 k

Anonymous said...

I agree with the law. There are times wherein people just tend to go on and on and on, talking/complaining/arguing about things. Due to the heated arguments, some forget that the ones they are talking to are those whom they truly care for. Sometimes, people go overboard or as we better know it, "low", and say things that will definitely hurt the other person. Because of too much words, friendships or relationships are ended. Therefore, I believe that people should learn to think first before they speak for each word can have a huge impact.

Tom Manahan
Hi 18-K

Miguel Galvez said...

I actually apply this law for myself when I want to get myself out of trouble with my parents.

If I get caught doing something wrong, I tell them the truth in the subtlest way possible by keeping from them the key words that would really put me at the worst position possible just so the punishment would stay at a minimal. It isn't really something I'm proud of though, but hey, it keeps me out of trouble. :P

- Juan Carlos Miguel M. Galvez
Hi18 - L

ice:) said...

I like this law. :) I'm the kind of person who doesn't like to talk but loves to listen. I didn't know that I could use that to my advantage. haha IF used wisely.

I agree with Ria that this could have horrible consequences, like the risk of being misunderstood and underestimated.
People may think that the person doesn't know anything that's why he doesn't talk. No one knows what you want or what you're thinking unless you say it. We should NEVER forget the importance of our words.

This law should only be used on certain circumstances and not ALL the time. i remember John Mayer's song "say" (i love john mayer!) anyways, the song says that we should say what we NEED to say.

I remember my MATHECO teacher, Ms. Rosalina Tan, "In the problems, do not GIVE anything that is not asked."
She said that during class when she gave back our papers. haha

Saying too much exposes you, speaking takes so much effort. Saying too little makes people misunderstand and underestimate you.
I like what Philip said about the law: "Balance is a key factor to this law"
I totally agree with that.

Clarice Manuel
Hi18 K

Anonymous said...

as many say: less is more...

leave a bit of mystery to your words... leave the people wondering.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I firmly believe in this law. Knowledge is truly powerful. Relating this law with my own assigned law (law 19), it is important to not say so much because you end up giving information that can be used against you in the future. The less a person knows about you, the less leverage they have on you. Why give your opponents the means of your defeat? You always have to be critical and aware of the people around you. Never forget that in battle you can't trust anyone. In fact, even making friends is forbidden to avoid backstabbing and other things such as blackmail. It is important to keep an air of unpredictability to really hit your opponent hard. However, it is important to not make people think you're trying to hide something from them. I guess it's all a matter of knowing the right things to say and how much to say.

Teri Marcelo
Hi 18-K

Anonymous said...

uncertainly brings out the nerves in all of us creating a sort of fear. it's just like taking a test which you didn't really review or even if you did, you'd still have no idea on what to expect. you'd have to dig deep and answer questions from your point of view since you have no idea of what to say.
a probable weapon here is panic, when it hits you, you forget to think straight and just end up speaking without thinking.

"a fish is caught by its own mouth"

JR Resma
Hi18 K

Krizia said...

As much as possible, you never really want to expose yourself to an opponent. They say that too much of a good thing can be bad. In this case however, what surprises me is that the word "necessary" has been used. For me, i think giving less that what should be the bare minimum could be dangerous.

Krizia Javate


Joey said...

One would do well to keep a comment at the bare minimum because you assume - every. single. word. - to be deliberate.

Joey Palma
P.S. See what I did there? :P

sambau said...

This is precisely why no super villain ever wins. They just HAVE to elaborately explain everything to the hero. Oops. I think saying everything, or even just more than what is necessary, is a sign of overconfidence. There's no way I can be foiled, so people might as well know what I'm thinking. Again, oops. Sometimes, more isn't merrier.

Sam Bautista

Anonymous said...

I like what bea o. said regarding how people should ask her the right questions. I think a good rule related to this law would be just that: ask the right questions. Only there will you find answers.

Alan Ortiz
HI18 K

Anonymous said...

I think, like some other laws, this one is focused on superiority. You have to keep knowledge to yourself – whether this knowledge is about you or about your thoughts. You have to say less than necessary so you’d be the only one gaining knowledge about others.
About what Sean Co quoted about humans wanting to know what others are thinking, it suddenly reminded me of when I used to watch David Blaine on tv back in high school. I don’t know if it’s real, but he can read people’s minds, and I remember wishing I can do that too. I believe what the book said about that is true…One can say everyone has a thirst for knowledge. And if one is to follow this law, he’d be the only one quenching his, while others might be left curious about that one person is thinking, especially if you’re no less than a king, like in the example.
But then, if you are to just say little, how do people know you’re actually brilliant? Shouldn’t you show them how good you are? What is considered “less than necessary”?

I agree with alan about the possible addition to this law. Only the right kind of questions will yield good answers...

Chris Macalinao
Hi18 – L

Anonymous said...

Information has been the most critical thing that controls the society nowadays. To live wisely in this competitive world, one has to be somehow shrewd in talking. You have to know what to say and not to say. Whenever you say more than necessary, what you have in mind, whether it is important or not, comes out of your lips unintentionally. People who like to speak a lot do not think before they talk. The result of this carelessness is that listeners take advantage of what they have heard from the speaker.
I think talking about yourself is good. It reveals your dreams and whenever you say more, you tend to act in such a way that your action leads to your dream. However, some informations and ideology you have which can be critical in judging you and being against you must not be spoken. Thus, discerning which to say and not to say for the sake of you is the best way to success.

Hae In Lee
Hi18 K

Anonymous said...

Information has been the most critical thing that controls the society nowadays. To live wisely in this competitive world, one has to be somehow shrewd in talking. You have to know what to say and not to say. Whenever you say more than necessary, what you have in mind, whether it is important or not, comes out of your lips unintentionally. People who like to speak a lot do not think before they talk. The result of this carelessness is that listeners take advantage of what they have heard from the speaker.
I think talking about yourself is good. It reveals your dreams and whenever you say more, you tend to act in such a way that your action leads to your dream. However, some informations and ideology you have which can be critical in judging you and being against you must not be spoken. Thus, discerning which to say and not to say for the sake of you is the best way to success.

Hae In Lee
Hi18 K

Anonymous said...

More often than not, people need to learn how to bite their tounge. By saying to much one could turn off the people he talks too. It could also be annoying at times. Saying the least but stating your point is the best way to give a message to others. Power comes in the form of doing things and accomplishing it in the shortest period of time.

Richard Hahn

Filbert Tan said...

I agree with Jaclyn - sometimes it is important to say AT LEAST what is necessary. There is a great risk of compromising an operation or whatnot, especially if your fellows do not know what you are doing. This would only cause more damage to you in the process - the exact opposite of power.

Filbert Tan

Anonymous said...

Though this law really is extremely clever, I think people can still blame you for things left unsaid, and therefore misconstruing situations. Also because you say very little, there may still be rather dangerous consequences of people filling in the blanks for you and misinterpreting things that you DIDN'T say. That said, I think being spartan with your speech is valuable, but holding too much of it can backfire.

Peep Warren

Anonymous said...

It's not bad to talk much as long as the information given out isn't important. But sometimes people slip and tend to reveal few of those crucial ideals. For this to be effective, why not make something up that could help provide a win to your side? Talking wisely, that's what one should be doing. Not talking enough may give out the impression that one is dull or unknowing. And I agree with Monica Copuyoc, there is both verbal and body language. It is important that one should know how to control both. Saying something but giving out a different body language otherwise makes it more or less credible. I remember the issue back then on news blackout, where the military had to keep crucial information for themselves. Most people did not like the idea but the thing is, this is a very effective tactic and should always be considered.

Czarina Kathryne Masagca

Dana said...

I agree with this law and it reminds me of law3: conceal your intentions. By speaking less, you keep your plans and ideas to yourself, not giving any clue to anyone. In effect, people know less about you and you give an air of mystery. No one knows what's on your mind. This makes you unpredictable, and therefore, makes it easier for you to catch an opponent unprepared.

Dana Cammayo

angelo said...

i agree with you. Indeed, information is way more important than some people put it to be. Apart from anything else, it could be used to read and manipulate people. In disclosing most of what you know, you lose valuable information. your listeners gain something, and you in turn, are left with nothing. In the end, you give them the advantage and put yourself in a spot of utter vulnerability.

-Angelo Mendoza, His18-L

Anonymous said...

In other words; speak for the truth, avoid non-sense ideas.

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