Apparently I'm a wimp and a wuss for not demanding immediate satisfaction from the Saturn dealer. Instead of taking the service manager's explanations at face value and accepting his assurance that he's doing the right thing, I'm supposed to get loud and scary.
Yeah, well, that's not me. If I can toddle on down the road of life without adding too much to the general level of discord and friction in the world, it makes it a lot easier for me to live with myself. Maybe I do get stepped on once in awhile, but that's a price I'll gladly pay.
I guess that makes me a wimp and a wuss, but I can handle that. I don't even mind the advice, because I know it comes from the heart. But it's sort of like our president's reaction to world opinion. My mind is made up; don't confuse me with facts.
Having worked in retail (and having managed a retail store), I've seen the extremes of interaction between people engaged in a business transaction. I know how dealing with obnoxious customers chafes at a person and makes his or her life miserable. I've seen clerks fight back, and I've been on the razor's edge myself. It's no way to live in a civilized society.
But I've also seen how civility can get so much more accomplished than rudeness. I'm forced to believe that in most cases people will go the extra mile and a half for someone who listens and tries to understand. And that goes in both directions. Everyone gets what they want, and everyone goes home happy. It's not even difficult to make it work that way.
On the other hand, once things get started down the wrong path, the outcome is almost never satisfying to anyone. Instead of interacting, those involved react. They take offense, back each other into corners, and end up saying or doing something that can't be taken back. Once everyone is on the defensive, it gets hard to make much progress.
The man who taught me everything I know about business (which isn't all that much, come to think of it) had a philosophy about sales. He said that the salesperson's job was to solve the customer's problem. If you can do that, he told me, the rest of it would take care of itself. He was successful for many years in his line of work, and he could go home content with himself every night.
Before I assume someone I'm doing business with is trying to take advantage of me, I always give them the chance to prove it. I go into a transaction thinking everyone involved will be honest and straightforward, and I'm rarely disappointed. That's the way I want the world to be, so that's the way I live.