Does anyone else use "Laconic Speech" in the office?

Laconic speech is basically where you try to use as few words as possible to convey a point. When I was a summer someone told me that I should be more "concise" with my thoughts, so I committed to speaking laconically 24/7. 

For example, if the MD asks a multi-paragraph question I will often answer with "Thanks ___. Yes." or no, depending on the question. I've been doing this for months, but often times the questions being asked are too complex for  one or two word answers. I still commit to it - I follow up with one or two words, but i've had periods where the seniors fly off the handle and seem to be very angry with me after ~5 or so rounds of back and forth short answers. I've also heard some of my fellow juniors accuse me of being autistic (not that there's anything wrong with that).

Has anyone here ever encountered this? How did you react? I want to be concise, but I also don't want to anger people. Thanks all!

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Comments (41)

Feb 6, 2021 - 8:16pm

props for still sticking to that 1-word reply bullshit

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  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Feb 6, 2021 - 4:11pm

The poster does bring up a good point though - how do you navigate between talking too much and being too terse?

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Feb 6, 2021 - 4:24pm

Yeah it's a good point that sometimes I struggle with too. But this person is talking about sending back one sentence or even one word responses to MDs who send paragraph emails. And then repeating it again and again as the MD gets angry. Wtf?

Feb 6, 2021 - 4:50pm

General advice would be to answer the question at hand with the relevant context that your audience may not have (i.e. they probably aren't aware of any work that's been done via DD or internal analytics to get to an answer so including that would be helpful). In addition to this you should try your best to predict what, if any follow-up questions might arise and address that as well.

Obviously use judgement, if it's a "yes it's done" or "no, still waiting on feedback from XYZ" then you don't need to write a paragraph to respond.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Feb 9, 2021 - 12:52am

Obviously, most of this should just come from intuition but there's one good way to think through it. What kind of response does the person you're replying to want to see? If it's an MD asking for notes on a client, then send it in bullet formatting and try to stick to the facts as much as possible in an easily legible manner. Is an associate sending comments? Just say "Sounds good. I'll get to it after xxx is done, which should take yyy amount of time.".  

If your MD is sending you multi-paragraph emails, what is the conversation about? Is the MD walking you through something, so that you can understand it better, and you're just saying "k thx"? If so, I'd probably get pissed too. 

If people are getting pissed off at you, then yes, its time to rethink how you communicate. Try reading emails sent to you from someone else, try to learn their style if you think that person is well-liked/respected in their role, and try to be like them a little bit if you can't come up with your own way of emailing coworkers. 

Feb 6, 2021 - 4:29pm

Answer the question fully, then make it concise. Don't be concise at the expense of fully answering the question. If an MD takes the time to write a para, it probably indicates they're expecting something substantial back too.


Feb 6, 2021 - 4:38pm


Answer the question fully, then make it concise. Don't be concise at the expense of fully answering the question. If an MD takes the time to write a para, it probably indicates they're expecting something substantial back too.


Feb 6, 2021 - 4:43pm

You've just given a great example. You asked 'why' without specifying what you're unclear about. It just creates unncessary steps of communication that would be avoided if you just exerted the effort to be clear in the first place.


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  • Intern in IB-M&A
Feb 6, 2021 - 6:20pm

What is going on here? It's not about giving one vs. thousand word answers. Use all the words necessary to convey the relevant information, whether it's one word or 30 words. As an adult, there's virtually nothing more annoying to me than when people are unclear. Empathize -- in other words, put yourself in the other person's shoes, and that should guide your behavior. 

BOSS: When will you send it to me?  

YOU:  Tomorrow. 

Well, tomorrow has 24 hours -- can you give me some more details regarding specifically when you may send it? 

I mean, come on -- it's not a one-size-fits-all world. You're going to let one guy's pet peeve dictate how you communicate for the rest of your life?  

Feb 8, 2021 - 8:25am

This is what the woke professors teach in liberal arts. You are the center of your own universe . No respect taught for elders or those of a higher rank. Arrogant OP thinks he's above his MD and can be the one calling the shots and giving cryptic responses. Think getting his mouth washed with soap would do the trick (oh wait that's .,, child abuse ?!?!?).


Feb 8, 2021 - 1:14pm

Engineer Monke

Everything I dislike is the libtards! 

Not everything . But I think it's fair that values such as respect for elders should be taught through the education system. After all isn't college education "supposed" to prepare students for the real world? 


Feb 8, 2021 - 9:21pm

How did you get to this from that? The logical leaps you took here are amazing

At least how I was raised and some of the people I interacted with (granted more rural types), speaking with one or two word responses like OP did is extremely disrespectful and is quite literally seen as a sign of arrogance, not a sign of social ineptitude as others are implying. The part about education isn't too far fetched either, I will say that b-school is really an outlier compared to other colleges when it comes to professionalism and overall manners (at least where I go). 


Feb 10, 2021 - 1:46pm

Senior people are mad at you because you're coming off as disrespectful in your emails. Additionally, by sending 7-8 emails for something that should be addressed in one email, you're wasting people's time by sending multiple emails of "Yes, no". 

Follow these guidelines when replying to an email:

1) Answer the question being asked. Make sure the email clearly answers the question. Use a judgement call to decide on how much info to give (don't over-think this, just use common sense). Based on your feedback, you're not giving enough information in your emails nor are you answering any questions being asked. 

2) Learn to read the tone of your email. You come off as someone that has no/little emotional intelligence when using social media. Emails/texts communicate tones and are often misinterpreted. If someone sends you an email asking detailed questions and you reply as "No", you come off as an asshole.

Another example of this is if you're asked to do something but don't have time, and respond "I don't have time for this", you come off as rude and not a team player. Instead you would want to write, : Hi X, I have a time conflict as I am working on X,Y,Z, and I don't think I will be able to finish all of these on time. Is there an item you would want me to prioritize?"   

Let me know if you see the difference between both responses.   

Feb 10, 2021 - 11:54pm

At GS as an analyst on a trading desk, we had a partner who forced us to communicate anything in less than 20 words. Was brutal but actually good training. It taught me a lot. 

Feb 12, 2021 - 4:15am

My god this is nuts lol. Why are you surprised that 1-2 words answers are pissing people off? There is a difference between being concise / articulate and coming off as a dick by barely saying anything and expecting people to take anything away from that. Part of being concise is not having to have people follow up to your one word replies to clarify what you meant or what you were referring to. It takes practice, but there is a way to convey a point while providing appropriate context and helping the listener draw key takeaways - your approach ain't it though.

You need a lesson in balancing eloquent work speech and EQ. Read the situation and reply based on that

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