Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: A Word in Your Ear

172 Responses

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  • BenWilson,

    Being articulate is certainly a superpower. I'm not sure it's a path to truth or happiness. But I'd rather have it than not, much like money.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8584 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    I married Irish. I'm used to losing arguments. Well, at least that's what she thinks.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • David Cauchi,

    I'm with the first commenter who said 'What?'

    I'd add a few exclamation marks. Ye gods.

    And asterisks should be outside the punctuation.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2007 • 121 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I'm inclined to distrust the highly articulate. It's rather like the distrust I feel for the very wealthy, or someone holding a weapon.

    You can drop being articulate as easily as putting down a gun, or giving money away. It can be done, it's just unlikely to be done.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8584 posts Report Reply

  • Grace Dalley,

    Joe: I know many people working for government departments also have a high level of frustration with the procedures they have to work through. They probably wish they could break umbrellas about it, too. :-)

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2008 • 138 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    Having occasionally worked for various governments I know something of that feeling. Nevertheless, I still believe a low threshold for sheer bureaucratic intransigence to be a gift of nature.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3552 posts Report Reply

  • chris,

    Recently found old audio tape, leaders debate 1999 host by John Campbell, fuck know how i have, but, quite different level aritucultion between they. defintly persuasiver word out of Ms Clark. sold me for certain. Not easy listening.

    中国 • Since Jan 2010 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • chris,

    中国 • Since Jan 2010 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    I've been informed that being persistent and hopeless or persistent and shouting are also techniques that work well with bureaucracy. The thing is to make it more bother for officials to not sort out your problems.

    To a point. Being articulate helps you explain your problem in terms of something a bureaucrat can do something about. I suppose there are several gradations of problems - member of the public needs the rules explained; member of the public needs the rules correctly applied; member of the public needs an exception to the rules to be made; member of the public needs the rules changed because they result in a perverse outcome for multiple people.* I'd say most inquiries to call centres, government departments and the like fall into the first category, and in a lot of cases, a member of the public assumes the final category when it's really the first. But if you are in the latter categories, it takes persistence and articulation to get past your junior bureaucrat or helpdesk or call centre worker's assumption that your issue is different from the other 80% they deal with.

    *Seeing as we're doing footnotes, some people call government departments mainly because they want a chat. It's a public service, after all.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 812 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    There is a certain kind of bureaucrat that cannot be swayed by even the most convincing of arguments. Often it seems purely on the principle of being in a position of power, rather than being a rational human being.

    This seems particularly common when enforcing the building code.

    Scenario:
    Council (often in Rodney, I hear*): 'You can't do that it's against regulations.'
    Random Home Owner: 'Yes, but it is obvious that once you sign it off, I'm just going to re-instate the bit you said I couldn't, because it's clearly ridoculous'.
    Council: 'That's not my problem.'
    RHO: 'Excellent, so just sign it off as it is.'
    Council: 'No, sorry, can't do that.'
    RHO: 'Doesn't this seem like a circuitous argument to you?'
    Council: 'Stop trying to baffle me with bull-shit. No.'
    RHO: (Runs around pulling up paving): 'Ok, sign here please.'
    Council: 'I knew you'd see sense'
    RHO (Waves): 'Byeeee.' (Re-instates paving).

    Who won? Probably the person who buys the house, gets a limb report and tells you they'll take 10,000 off the price in consideration of the illegal paving.

    *A story pretty much identical to this was relayed to me last weekend.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    a limb report

    yes, those do seem to be prosthetic legs stacked under the house

    You can drop being articulate as easily as putting down a gun

    Not necessarily true if you're an aspie. And if it were that simple, there wouldn't be such a market for meditation gurus and suchlike.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16739 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    in a lot of cases, a member of the public assumes the final category when it's really the first. But if you are in the latter categories, it takes persistence and articulation to get past your junior bureaucrat or helpdesk or call centre worker's assumption that your issue is different from the other 80% they deal with.

    Nailed it for all but the few ignorant power-hungry public servants (who are less common than most think) - and who probably need the help of a meditation guru or psychotherapist..

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16739 posts Report Reply

  • Isabel Hitchings,

    You can drop being articulate as easily as putting down a gun

    I'm not convinced. I think you can stop using your articulacy to be an arse to people but dropping the base facility with words would be more like faking a limp - possible for a while but requiring continuous conscious effort.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2007 • 706 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    You can drop being articulate as easily as putting down a gun

    In my experience this is more commonly referred to as 'silence'.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Grace Dalley,

    I've found it's a good idea to take things higher if the application of rules seems too crazy. Higher-ups have not only a view of the bigger picture but are allowed more discretion in applying the rules. "Can I speak to your supervisor?" can be a magic password.

    I found that a utility company we've been having difficulties with suggests a slightly different wording. If you call them, and the person answering the call doesn't sort things out, you say, "I'd like to escalate this call" and they pass you further up the tree.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2008 • 138 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    In my experience, the key (and often forgotten) thing in dealing with these sorts of organisations is that, rather than simply complaining, you have tell them the outcome you want.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • slarty,

    I love this post. Thank you.

    I am verbally compelling apparently.

    And I need to restrain myself and save it for the important stuff. Which is a lesson I wish I had learned at about, oh, 16. Except for the stuff with girls, which is just fair game of course.

    And the swearing... ah yes. I try to educate people how liberal use of the word fuck is actually an attack on the terrible class-based cultural oppression excreted by the Victorians etc.

    But all the hear is Fuck blah blah blah fuck blah blah so it somewhat destroys the argument. It took a written complaint to the boss by a bunch of sad old god-bothery fuckers to make me realise that this didn't fit into the 'keep your powder dry' category either.

    Since Nov 2006 • 290 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I think you can stop using your articulacy to be an arse to people but dropping the base facility with words would be more like faking a limp

    I'm pretty much suggesting the former (and also suggesting that people who do this are unlikely to stop). But I think it's a skill that responds to training and use. If you don't say much, your level of articulateness (articulation? articularity?) will atrophy. I'm not advocating this.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8584 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    Presence and persistent plausibility will always surpass articulate academic argument. You only need your opponent to doubt their own argument and the case is won. It is not a case of proving your own argument but a case of destroying theirs.
    First one to swear out of frustration loses.
    ;-)

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4869 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    articulacy?

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    articulacy?

    I think you will find that there is a possibility that you may be mistaken there. Taking all things into account I would, if I were you, try to look beyond the surface of your proposition to ascertain its fundamental foundations and see if you can spot the point of possible failure.
    :-D

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4869 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    If you don't say much, your level of articulateness (articulation? articularity?) will atrophy. I'm not advocating this.

    Thank you. I feel my whole approach is vindicated. Others might not thank you as much ;-)

    In terms of articulation (not of trucks) by degrees, I often find when speaking with qualified professionals who have the 'authority' to speak more forcefully than myself on certain subjects (say doctors for example) I more than hold my own, whereas in more informal contexts I can get quite easily flummoxed.

    In some ways 'speaking off the cuff' under pressure is an easier thing for me than writing, editing, and hitting the right notes all the time on forums, for example. In most instances where I trust my instinct verbally, I get away with it. Second guessing tends to come across as 'trying too hard'. 'Ya' think?'

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    I think you will find that there is a possibility that you may be mistaken there. Taking all things into account I would, if I were you, try to look beyond the surface of your proposition to ascertain its fundamental foundations and see if you can spot the point of possible failure.
    :-D

    'Scuse my inarticulacy.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    Presence and persistent plausibility will always surpass articulate academic argument. . . . First one to swear out of frustration loses.
    ;-)

    Never funny to swear in anger, but highly effective in dealing with certain forms of overinstitutionalised BS. For example, "He's not an artist, he's just one of those little cunts that draws skulls."

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3552 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    Scused.
    It all comes down to how articulately your articles are articulated,
    It's Language Bro

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4869 posts Report Reply

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