Home » The Art of Brevity: “Always Say Less than Necessary”

The Art of Brevity: “Always Say Less than Necessary”

Brevity is in short supply. People often speak so many words, while saying little of substance.

Think of the last time you logged into social media. You log into Facebook, you scroll down, and find yet another caps-lock wall of text about Donald Trump. Never have so many words been required to say “I have no emotional control.”

Brevity is a tool that exhibits intelligence, power, and self-control. Read on to find out how, so you can apply it to your interactions.

Why Brevity is Important

We all know people who talk too much. This poor habit tests our patience, reveals things that don’t warrant revelation, and shows a lack of self-control.

You ask a simple question, expecting a yes-or-no answer in return. Instead you hear “Yes, I did that. I also had a hard time finding so-and-so, but I was able to do this and this. And then…” Get to the point, don’t waste time.

Your friend makes a wisecrack, and gets you to laugh. Once he gets a reaction, he keeps cracking jokes, or quoting every other line he memorized from Will Ferrell movies. It gets stale quickly, and he comes across as a try-hard clown. I would know, since I was often that clown in my early teens. Sadly, it’s hard to know you’re acting foolishly until someone else’s behavior acts as a mirror.

“Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.” – Proverbs 17:28

A man of few words can make a good impression on people. Multiple female colleagues recently expressed their appreciation of my quiet, calm demeanor. When they work with motor-mouthed female managers, it’s helpful to be around laconic men.

When you embrace brevity of speech, you exhibit self-control. But it requires will, which is a limited resource. Be on your guard, so that you don’t run your mouth, whether on social media or in a job interview.

If you are sarcastic, be careful. As satisfying as it is to make a dark-humored quip, you can’t always be certain if the joke will land. If it doesn’t land, it can severely bite you in the ass.

Brevity can be cryptic or plain, depending on your audience. If you seek strength, crypticism forces people to ponder your words, ascribing more meaning than they might actually have (Mike Cernovich is famous for saying “Few understand this.” Spend enough time on Twitter, and you’ll recognize all the go-to blogger lines). If you seek reach, plain talk enables everyone to understand your meaning.

As a premier blog artist, Victor further emphasizes the importance of brevity.

Examples of Brevity

You can pack much meaning into a laconic expression.

Trump smacked down Megyn Kelly’s entire gotcha moment with the phrase “Only Rosie O’Donnell.” He indicated a refusal to backpedal from his previous statements, wrecked Kelly’s narrative, and rejected political correctness. Those three words set the tone for his campaign, and look where he is now.

That brevity, dear reader, is power.

Here’s a laconic expression I recently used.

This one is just an in-joke to some of my followers. It’s a simultaneous reference to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s acting and Augusto Pinochet.

The following is a business Twitter account refusing to cave in to a social justice warrior. Three words and a picture are all that are required to make the point.

The final example of brevity is the phrase “Who bitch this is,” which became famous in the wake of GamerGate. For more, read Pax Dickinson’s article at Chateau Heartiste.


Further Reading on Brevity: The 48 Laws of Power, by Robert Greene (4th Law, especially)

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