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By June 7, 2016March 6th, 2021Culture, Philosophy

“Do not readily reveal yourself or your intentions. It leaves you with more room to maneuver.” Don’t know the origin of this quotation, but I suspect it’s the sort of advice that propagates organically — because it is practical and so perfect.

If silence is golden, add some mystery to the treasure and you’ve got Fort Knox. A safe place to store your most valuable negotiating tool: your private intentions. In work related situations, that is. In life too, but that’s another essay altogether.

Here is why being discreet, holding your cards close to your vest, can advantage you in the business world.

Be more competitive: Keep your competition guessing. Let them expend time and resources trying to anticipate your next move. They’ll be left with less of both to respond to your strategies, once initiated.

Strengthen salary negotiations: Never ask for a raise unless you have other options and are prepared to walk away. If the answer is no, don’t immediately reveal your intentions. Discretion serves two purposes. It buys you time to maneuver, to collect your materials and files, and notify contacts and associates of your imminent plans. Further, the confidence you display by characterizing the decision as irrelevant may make him or her rethink their position; and at least gives you some satisfaction. Another advantage of not revealing your intentions prematurely is to avoid the unenviable “lame-duck” status.

Gain confidence: There is power in mystery, and the curiosity, anticipation or trepidation that precedes its revelation. Astronaut Neil Armstrong’s profound view of mystery went a step further: “Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man’s desire to understand.”

For all intents and purposes, success in the workplace is about gamesmanship. You don’t have to be a poker player to understand the importance of mastering a good poker face.


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