Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Value of Silence at Business Meetings - the Samurai Way

"Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open ones mouth and remove all doubt." - Unknown.

"Those who don't know say that they do. Those who do know say they don't." - Za Zen Buddhist saying

I often am reminded of how much some people like to hear their own voices at meetings. Not me. If I can, I want to go through meetings and be completely silent unless I am absolutely sure that I understand all facets of the problem(s) being discussed and there is something that is urgently pressing that I feel that I must say....

To be quite dramatic... It is like the way a samurai would do things... They'd shut up unless they have something important to say. In my case, I shut up because I don't want to sound stupid.

In Japan, even from long ago, it is said that the most intelligent people say little. A zen quote goes like this: "Those who say they know, don't. Those who do know, don't say."

Hopefully, against all odds, and in spite of myself, what I did have to say at a meeting, when I finally said it, would be relevant.

Otherwise, I want to be like samurai. 

According to ancient folklore, the samurai weren't big talkers. They didn't say too much.

Perhaps they kept their mouths shut because they already knew the score or perhaps they kept silent because they didn't fully comprehend the subject at hand. Or, perhaps they kept quiet because they knew that f they talked, they'd say something dumb. No matter what, it's always a good idea not to "show your hand."

Keeping your mouth shut and only speaking when absolutely necessary seems to me a good way to be.


NOTE: Many regular readers have been asking for more great Japanese cinema. We haven't had any since the earthquake and tsunami, but here's some of the best scenes from Zatoichi a 1989 samurai film about a samurai who is blind. This is an awesome film. I will search for an English subtitled version and place it online if I can. Until then, enjoy!


Poots said...

There is an old proverb that says:

Knowledge talks, but wisdom listens...

And yes, that is good advice for any meeting...

Anonymous said...

"Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open ones mouth and remove all doubt." Unknown.

Anonymous said...

^^^ That would be Mark Twain

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