Information Management for Success: When to Show Your Cards

Information Management for Success: When to Show Your Cards

Carry your things with suspension. The admiration of the novelty is an estimation of the successes. Playing the game uncovered is neither useful nor tasteful. Not declaring oneself then suspends, and more so where the sublimity of the use gives object to universal expectation; it feigns mystery in everything, and with its very arcane nature provokes veneration. Even in making oneself understood, plainness must be avoided, just as in dealing with others one must not allow everyone to be interior. It is the demure sacred silence of sanity. The declared resolution has never been estimated; before it is allowed to censure, and if it comes out randomly, it will be twice unhappy.
Imitate, then, the divine procedure to make to be to the sight and to the wakefulness.

Baltasar Gracián

Aphorism #3, The Art of Worldly Wisdom


Table of Contents




For the youngest




Gracián exploits in this aphorism the concept of the management and dosage of information, and he does so through apparently unconnected brushstrokes that revolve around this theme in a disorganized, even chaotic way. It seems as if he had been compiling them for some time and vomited them all into this text without much care for form or connection, something that we will see on multiple occasions in this work. We will go through and analyze each idea separately to get an idea of what he wants to communicate.

The successes acquire value through the admiration provoked by the novelty of the novelty.

Why does novelty provoke admiration? Indeed, the lack of precedents leads us to think that there has been continuity in the past, that it has always been successful, and therefore leads us to think that this will also be the case in the future. But be careful, because this is also the case in the pole position and can become a disadvantage. Novelty that errs is born moribund. It is therefore important to always put special emphasis and interest in the way a novelty is presented.

Showing the cards at the outset is neither pleasing nor useful

What is impressive when looking at an iceberg is not what is seen with the naked eye, but what is not seen beneath the surface, what is left to the imagination. Not giving too much detail and choosing the right level of information can be very useful in the tactical field; on the other hand, opening up too much and in the first instance it can be perceived as lack of content or lightness.

Not being discovered immediately produces curiosity, and if the position is an important one, general expectation arises.

On the contrary, waiting to be shown generates a genuine interest that keeps the interlocutor attentive and connected to the message. This expectation can easily spread and increase by itself if the visibility and relevance of the subject is such that it covers a wide and sufficiently communicated collective.

Mystery provokes veneration, by the mere fact of being secret

Secrecy attracts. It is enough to be told that it is a secret for our interest to increase, sometimes to an exacerbated degree. Who has ever resisted not wanting to know a secret? On the other hand, secrecy has been the honey that has attracted many societies, such as Freemasonry. Feeling that we know a secret makes us feel empowered, that we have more information than others and that we have the power to decide when and how to reveal it.

Even when making oneself understood, one must avoid frankness.

Openness can be gratuitous at times. It is not necessary to give all kinds of details unnecessarily, and this does not mean that you are lying or not telling the truth. Knowing how to dose information and limit it to what is strictly necessary is usually the best strategy as a general rule.

Neither in the treatment, intimate thoughts should be shown to everyone.

Intimacy should be reserved for a small circle. Being light-hearted about revealing intimacies to the first person who passes by can be seen as self-deprecating and even rude and vulgar.

Demure silence is the refuge of sanity

The popular saying is full of examples that reinforce this statement. Sayings like… There is no better word than the unspoken, they are well known and widely used, but to what extent are they correct? Again, it is about playing not to reveal your cards, deciding what portion of information you are going to put into play and what is going to be left to the imagination of others. It may be more effective in certain circumstances for others to complement the message by adding the missing piece, thus not only saving money but also adapting the response to each specific interlocutor. But it is necessary to choose the right moments and not to abuse this by system. Sometimes, not giving the right answer at the right time can be counterproductive and contrary to individual interests, as well as encouraging unnecessary misunderstandings.

A decision is not appreciated if it is made public, and when exposed to criticism, if it is negative, the bad luck will be double.

Giving public explanations of why a decision is made may be unwise if it is not strictly necessary. It is not possible to expect everyone to participate in decisions if they do not concern them, at the risk of encouraging unproductive criticism, which, moreover, usually feeds back in an unbridled manner, generating a snowball effect that is difficult to reverse or control.

It is better to imitate the divine power to keep men attentive and vigilant.

Here Baltasar Gracián makes clear his Jesuit condition and invokes an inaccessible Divinity that generates mystery and expectation, but at the same time adoration and fierce loyalty, at least for the believer like him.

For the youngest

Honest yes, but not always transparent. Knowing how to choose when to offer more or less information is an art that must be mastered. It is essential, in many areas but especially in the workplace, to learn to be brief. Any engineer, especially in the software field, knows that if it is possible to design something with fewer elements (or lines of code) without prejudice to the purpose for which it is intended, it is better to keep it simple. This will significantly reduce the chances of failure and increase robustness and reliability.

This is even more important in a job interview. Always show knowledge and confidence, but make sure that the message sticks to what is being asked in the interview. It is not because you want to show that you know a lot that you will get better results. Brevity and conciseness in the answer are essential elements for a good interview. Interviewers are often bosses who have no time to spare, and need to have as much information available in as little time as possible. Think about it.