The Road AheadAlways say less than necessary [Archives:2003/631/Business & Economy]

April 14 2003

Raidan Al-Saqqaf
Robert Greene states in his book “The 48 Laws of Power”, Law No. 4: Always say less than necessary: “When you are trying to impress people with words, the more you say, the more common you appear, and the less in control. Even if you are trying something banal, it will seem original if you make it vague, open-ended, and sphinx-like. Powerful people impress and intimidate by saying less. The more you say, the more likely you are to say something foolish”.
History books have many examples of people who perfected the art of gaining power through words; through saying the right thing at the right place, time & occasion. The secret for gaining such power is through saying less than necessary, that communicates the idea with a little bit of ambiguity and mystery with the help of short answers and silence. In fact, silence makes it more difficult for others to learn about your intentions, and hence you appear greater and more powerful than you actually are.
The important thing is not to allow others to know everything that you are all about. Successful businessmen know that once words are out, you cannot take them back, and business is nothing but a process of gathering information in the hunt for opportunities, and so are many forms of art.
Successful artists do not let you see what aspired their work; they know that if they let you see them sweat producing their art, the artwork loses its mystery. Something similar happens in business, if you had to get something done, and for that you had to call on a few favors, always make it look like it was nothing comparing to what you can actually do. This will empower your appearance, goodwill and creditability. It is the no-sweat style that adds power to what you do.
Nevertheless, there are situations where it is unwise to be silent and to hide your sweat, because sometimes silence stimulates a sense of insecurity and suspicions, especially while carrying out investigations or meeting with your superiors. The balancing point is where you appear less powerful to your superiors, and appear much more powerful to your subordinates.
In life, there are some people who like to show their sweat and talk about the things they do, and on the contrary, there are those who await others to speak first. Those are powerful people because they can know and understand the real intentions of others around them first. And so others can't predict their reactions.

Endnote: You can be more powerful through impressing by saying less, no one can predict what you will say and so can't deceive you by saying what you want to hear. The point is that ambiguity adds power to you through your words, and your work.