The Need to Know concept is mostly illustrated by Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series. Even when Snape asks him to explain what he is doing in his private lessons with Harry, Dumbledore replies with, “I prefer not to put all my secrets in one basket,…”
Dumbledore was a man of as few words as he could manage. This goes against human nature. Each of us has a natural desire to be part of a conversation and without even consciously thinking about it we naturally desire to turn the topic towards ourselves. Few things are as inherent in mankind as the constant need to talk about oneself. With that having been said Dumbledore’s relationships did not suffer because he was short or cold with people. He found a happy middle.
It is a sign of true control when one learns to master his tongue. I suspect that when Dumbledore was engaged in any conversation his thought process what probably closer to “does this person need to know this….” than to “there isn’t any reason I shouldn’t tell this person this…” What is this minor difference? The difference is between only telling people what is necessary and telling people anything or everything as long as you can’t forsee any future harm in it.
We never know what the future might hold or what things today that may seem insignificant might one day become important. However, we must not take this idea to the other extreme. Its one thing to control the human tendency to talk about oneself at every chance and a much different thing to tell people nothing at all. If we all spoke to each other in short, simple, need to know only statements the world would not be a better place.
Remember that our greatest assets are our relationships and making and maintaining strong relationships means sharing yourself with others, becoming transparent, and even dependent on one another. I’m simply suggesting that we bridle the natural human need to tell people everything we can about everything we feel is important to us. Its only in the happy middle of these two extremes that control and thus power over ourselves and our relationships can be strengthened.
Jacob S. Paulsen
Action: Be more conscious as you converse with others. Look back on your conversations to catch yourself bringing the subjects constantly back to you.