Cui bono

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The JC’s guide to pithy Latin adages

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Cui bono is Latin for “who benefits?”[1]. When you’re not sure about a negotiation position, ask yourself this — but remember that, since you are having to ask, whoever is benefitting, most likely it isn’t you.

And when you come to send that email, to-all, perhaps where you say thanks — or, God forfend, thx — for a colleague’s reply to the most arcane topic, and as your finger hovers over the “send” button, take a moment to scan the distribution list and ask yourself, cui bono? Does the cc: line stretch to the horizon? Will these people care? Do they need to know? Will their professional day be, somehow, enriched?

If not — even if you’re not quite sure — strike them from the list and smile, for the answer to your question now — cui bono? — is we all will.

See also


  1. I am resisting mightily the overwhelming urge to make a lame joke about the first time the guitarist met the singer from U2.