The shortest answer to a threat

The shortest answer to a threat

The shortest and most coherent response to a threat was given by the Spartans. A concise answer. The Spartans were taught from childhood to speak briefly and clearly. It’s a one-word answer. But there is deep wisdom in it.

The Macedonian king Philip wanted to attack Sparta. But first he threatened the Spartans to get scared and surrender themselves (and open the gates to the city). King Philip told the Spartans:

“Surrender! I will win anyway. If I break down the gates of the city, I will order your houses and temples to be destroyed, your gardens and crops to be trampled on, and I will kill the inhabitants or turn them into slaves. Therefore, you had better surrender willingly!”.

The Spartans listened to the message and responded to the threat with just one word:


Which meant: “If you can, dirty Macedonian king”. And then they took all measures to protect themselves. And they did not submit to the king Philip. He could not conquer Sparta.

What lessons can we learn from this historical parable? If you are threatened by someone or something, your opponent’s words are always a possible development of situation, but not guaranteed. In fact, your opponent never knows 100% for sure how events will unfold. Even if he have the upper hand in his favor. And the less he knows about you, the greater his uncertainty.

Threats are very popular in interrogations today. Sometimes we are threatened by clients, partners, and even loved ones. But your reaction should be like the Spartans:

“If you can”.

If someone threatens you, it doesn’t mean they win. It’s a tactic, a ploy. A threat should not make you give up. On the contrary, the threat should mobilize you and give you strength. You must think in advance how to find a way out and protect yourself from the enemy.

Anxiety and fear break weak people, but the strong people become even stronger!

Why? Yes, because strong people know that it is impossible to control everything, it is impossible to know everything and foresee everything. And if they have well prepared the layout in their favor, then the chances of the opponent will be minimal.

But what do the weak people do? They suddenly throw out the white flag! There is a mistake.

Yes, sometimes our opponents don’t bluff. And we understand that what they say will do us great harm. So we have to take all measures to protect ourselves. Absolutely everything. And at the same time to think how to increase the damage to the enemy.

This is nature. The strong attack the weak. The strong avoid the strong. Lions rarely attack lions and bears rarely attack bears. Why? Because the damage of winning in this battle may be greater than the reward.

If you are threatened, it means you have to think about how to defend yourself. And fight in every way you can. And let the one who threatens you, or fate itself, know that you are ready to fight.

“If” is the key word. Bad things can happen. Or it may not, if you are ready to fight and have formed the intention to defend yourself. The future is variable. A lot depends on us.

We can’t know the future. If bad things do happen, we will think about what to do next. But our reaction to the threat depends entirely on ourselves.

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