To Speak or not

20 Jul

Commenting on our class participation levels, my Services Marketing prof mailed this excerpt to us. 🙂

There are a sort of men whose visages
do cream and mantle like a standing pond,
do a wilful stillness entertain

purpose to be dressed in an opinion
Of wisdom, gravity, profound conceit,

As who should say, “I am Sir Oracle,
And when I ope my lips, let no dog bark”

O my Antonio, I do know of these

That therefore only are reputed wise
For saying nothing;

I am very sure,
If they should speak, would almost damn those ears,

Which, hearing them, would call their brothers fools….

for Silence is commendable a neat’s tongue dried and a maid not vendible…


William ShakespeareThe Merchant of Venice.

Shakespearean English is not really my cup of tea, so it took me a while to figure out (and hence this out of sync punctuation). But well, this essentially means that there are people who claim to be wise and hence hold silence, but most of them are not wise- and if they speak it will be very evident. So silence is rarely a sign of virtue.

As one T-shirt quote says-

It’s better to let people think that you are smart than open your mouth and remove all doubts. 🙂

So- if you are wise you will not speak, and if you are not wise; well you should not speak. (i.e. speak only if you don’t want to speak :D).

But as an Hindi proverb says- बोलना चांदी है तो चुप रहना सोना! पर बिना बोले बात कैसे बनेगी?? (if  talking is silver then silence is golden.)  Especially in a scenario where you need to sell your skills more often then not!

As Mastero Jagjit Singh sings,

मुंह की बात सुने हर कोई, दिल के दर्द को जाने कौन
आवाजों के बाज़ारों में, ख़ामोशी पहचाने कौन?

(Everybody listens to my voice but who cares to hear my heart? This is a market of voices, who can value silences!)

So, back to the question- to speak or not.

Well silence is really golden, especially when it is inside you -(that’s what meditation does). But speak, when you need to sell yourself.

Culture here would be another issue- in India we are told when not to speak, but we are not told when to speak. Result- I speak little and I say even littler (the two are different). Given an opportunity, I would like to forego the opportunity to impress the world- only a few people matter to me and I really do not need to say a lot to impress them.

So keep deciding– To Speak or Not…


2 Responses to “To Speak or not”

  1. anna July 21, 2012 at 10:40 PM #

    Experience let us to make the distinction when to speak or not, i guess. Btw continue writing about your thoughts.

    • Shiv July 21, 2012 at 11:12 PM #

      True. So how to manage a group where all members are supposed to speak evenly? For example we see this problem even in Parliament, where some MPs ask more questions than others.

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