I picked up a book a while back titled the 48 Laws of Power (you can read the laws here). It’s a lot like the The Art of War remixed with the I-Ching. Before bedtime we read a different law and enjoy the wonderful stories that accompany them. Although we skip all around the book, last night was “Law 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 saying something banal, it will seem original if you make it vague, open-ended, and sphinxlike. Powerful people impress and intimidate by saying less. The more you say, the more likely you are to say something foolish.

During the reading of this law we came across the word taciturnity, which means “habitual silence, or reserve in speaking” or “the keeping of one’s thoughts and emotions to oneself“. The word is a noun so don’t use it incorrectly.

And article titled Speak More Powerfully By Saying Less states, “If brevity is the soul of wit, taciturnity is the backbone of conversational power.”

This word reminds me of:

  • a poem (see below)
  • which reminds me of my grandmother
  • which reminds me of story telling
  • which reminds me of Garrison Keillor
  • which reminds me of the-art-of-the-pause
  • which is tangentially related to the word taciturnity

Poem: A Wise Old Owl, Mother Goose Rhymes (1700s)

A wise old owl
lived in an oak;

the more he saw
the less he spoke;

the less he spoke
the more he heard.

Why can’t we all be
like that wise old bird.