I’m going to let you in on a little secret.
I am not a people person. Some people, yes. All of them, or even the majority of them, not so much.
I work alone a lot, an occupational hazard, and can be fatally awkward around a group of strangers. It’s like a slow-mo trainwreck. I know I should DO something but find myself sitting in helpless horror as gauche remarks and unfortunately blunt or, worse, uninformed, observations come sailing out of my mouth. It’s especially bad when people have encountered the written me first. They’re expecting polished, edited Michelle. Unfiltered Michelle with her annoying cackle can be a bit of a shock.
So, after making a series of poor choices during recent encounters with humans I decided to research ways to brush up my communication skills.
And I came across the Laconians, inhabitants of the Greek region that is home to Sparta, who practiced an admirably economical form of speaking. (They’re where we get the term laconic from.)
Perhaps the most famous back-and-forth is when Philip II of Macedon (dad to Alexander the Great) sent a message to Sparta saying “If I invade Laconia you will be destroyed, never to rise again.”
Sparta’s response: “If.”
That is totally badass and I think if I kept all my sentences to one word I’d be in much better shape.
It seems the Spartans fought quite a bit because a lot of their best lines are battle related. Before the Battle of Thermopylae, for instance, the Spartans were told that there were so many Persian archers they blotted out the sun when they shot off their arrows. “So much the better, we’ll fight in the shade,” was the Spartan reply.
This is also the battle where the commander Leonidas told his men, “Eat well, for tonight we dine in Hades,” which, to be candid, would put me right off. Even if we were having something delicious, like haggis. Also, are you thinking of Gerard Butler in a leather Speedo? I am totally thinking about Gerard Butler in a leather Speedo.
Of course, the Spartans didn’t have a lock on taciturn talk. President Calvin “Silent Cal” Coolidge was famous as a man of few words. In a story that may be completely fabricated BS, but hey, it’s fun, a lady sitting next to him at a dinner is said to have announced she’d made a bet that she could get more than two words out of him. “You lose,” he replied.
You’re probably wondering, does the Laconian form of communication work?
I can’t say yet since I’ve mostly been practicing on my cat, but it did sometimes for the Laconians.
Philip didn’t invade after getting the brush off and on another occasion he asked if he should visit as friend or foe. a much friendlier overture.
But the Spartans weren’t having it.
“Neither,” they replied.