Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thrift Week, day four: Wrath

This entry is going to be a rather short one, I think, because it's late and right now I'm feeling more in tune with sloth than with wrath, my allotted subject for today. It was kind of poor planning on my part to schedule wrath for a day when I would have less time than usual, because it's probably the hardest of the seven sins on the list to link to finances. The only way I can really think of to make the connection is to think about it in terms of negotiation. One of the key rules of negotiation is to stay calm, because you're more likely to get what you want if you ask for it in a polite, reasonable way. (Side note: actually, there are exceptions to this rule. Miss Manners, in her Guide for the Turn-of-the-Millennium, relates an incident in which she called up a newspaper office several times to complain that her paper wasn't being delivered, without result. An employee finally explained to her that it was the company's policy not to take any action unless the complainant "could be characterized as irate." Miss Manners reports that she "asked timidly if he would be so kind as to put her down as having been loud and obscene, and he gallantly promised to do this.")

But in general, being polite gets you better results than being rude. If you're dealing with customer service, for instance, if you lose your temper and start yelling insults, they're not going to want to deal with you; they'll just hang up, and you'll be no closer to solving the problem. By contrast, if you stay calm but determined, they'll be more willing to hear you out. (They still may not fix your problem, but at least it won't be your own fault.) Or if you're trying to persuade your neighbor not to use power tools in his yard in the wee hours of the morning (and you're defining the wee hours as anything earlier than 10 am on a weekend), he's more likely to agree, or at least consider a compromise, if you ask him politely than if you barge up to him shaking your finger in his face and threatening to call the cops on him for disturbing the peace. In any negotiation—financial or otherwise—keeping your cool is a better way to get what you want than going in hot (which is likely to get the other party heated up as well, causing the whole situation to boil over).

I'm sure there must be more to say on this subject, but I can't think of anything at the moment, and anyhow, it's bedtime. Tomorrow we can have fun with gluttony.
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