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PostPosted: Fri Feb 18, 2000 8:57 pm 
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how does one deal verbally with another's error? remembering the objective is to allow both parties to save face, i am presented with a difficult situation.

try this scenario. i live with "john" and can make no other arrangements. john borrows money, and assures me it will be back by thursday. thursday comes and goes, and john doesn't return the money. i politely remind him.

he will say many things in this circumstance. "i thought you meant next thursday." "you didn't say i HAD to return the money." "i was tired and i just forgot." "i did give it back to you, don't you remember?" etc, etc, etc.

the problem is twofold. one must be able to admit error, and not create non-existent events to cover errors. of course, part 'b' would be unnecessary if admitting a mistake was part of the program.

skip the part about not lending john money, it is just an example to illustrate the structure that is oft repeated.

so, self-defense in mind, how does one deal with someone who finds it impossible to say "ohh, i made a mistake. let me fix that," so everyone saves face?

yona

-this is a change of pace from your "chi" discussion...


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 18, 2000 9:49 pm 
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You live with John, so he most probably is a roommate or "significant-other". (whatever that means)

Since you can't change the arrangement, we must assume some kind of long term situation. If this is the case, you both should learn from the example and any future borrowing of money accompanied with at least a signed memo detailing the arrangement.

The "errors" mentioned varied a great deal. In one set of excuses, he intends to repay you. The date of repayment is in question. The other excuses don't involve payment, at any time!

In the first senario, the only area of disagreement is the time of payment. I'd simply say "It is quite possible that I didn't make the terms of repayment clear. On what day next week will you pay me back"?

The second set of untruths will be more difficult to handle. Since no written agreement is involved, you must rely on smooth talking to get repaid. I'd ask John to recall the exact conversation we had that ended up with me giving him money. In recreating events, I would try to establish the possibility that his version was incorrect. If he continued to lie, I would ask him to give me the benefit of doubt, since it is my money and therefore my version that should be given more weight.

If this didn't work, I tell him my friend Van Canna Sensei will be visiting him one night in the parking lot! Image


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 18, 2000 10:33 pm 
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Doctor X,

one of the best things about this forum to me, are the frequent belly laughs that help to more freely circulate chi.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 19, 2000 3:29 pm 
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For the thread "dealing verbally with mistakes"

Yona describes a situation in which she has loaned money to someone she calls "John" (in linguistics we often call him "Norm," from the phrase "hypothetical Norm,"); when she reminds him that it's time to repay the loan he gives her all sorts of excuses and arguments of the "I didn't think you meant I HAD to pay it back" and "I thought you meant next Thursday" and "I forgot" and so on. She wants to know how to deal with this without causing a loss of face. She also explicitly asked that no one respond to her with the suggestion that she not loan John money any more, reminding us that it's a hypothetical situation. Since it's hypothetical, let's move away from money; money tends to complicate discussions. And let's remember that in the confrontation Yona described we don't know what was said to John before the string of excuses started. That matters a great deal.

Suppose Norm has loaned Tracy a book with the stipulation that it be returned the following Monday; Monday comes and Tracy shows up without the book. Let's consider two scenarios.

(1)

Suppose Norm says any of the following:

"Well -- where's my _book_?"
"You said you'd return my book today. Where IS it?"
"Why don't you have my BOOK with you?"
"I knew it -- I KNEW I'd be sorry I loaned you my book! You're not _through_ with it, ARE you?"
"If you're here without my book, I am really going to be MAD!"
And so on....

Those opening moves, and the infinite number of other possible moves of the same kind, immediately threaten Tracy in terms of face. If Tracy is unskilled verbally, he/she will believe that there are only three choices for responding: To grovel ("Oh, no....I forgot your BOOK! How could I DO that?! I'm so SORRY.....I don't know HOW that happened, I MEANT to bring it back...." and so on); to bluster ("What's the big DEAL? It's only a BOOK! Why do you always make a mountain out of a molehill? Are you paranoid, or WHAT?" and so on); or to make excuses, as in Yona's hypothetical example.

In all three instances, the worst thing Norm can do is to reward Tracy for this behavior by paying attention to it -- that is, by going into a lengthy and emotional exchange over the matter. Norm has made a strategic mistake by opening with an utterance that threatens Tracy's face and has been met with the immediate consequences of that mistake. Norm's appropriate move now is to say something along the lines of "Okay; just bring it to me tomorrow" followed by an _immediate_ change of subject to something totally unrelated. Under no circumstances should Norm allow Tracy to return to the subject of the book.

(2)

Suppose Norm does it this way instead:

"Morning, Tracy; glad you're here. What did you think of the ending of my book?"

This gives Tracy nothing to hit back at, and offers a large number of face-saving "outs." The interaction can then go many different ways, far too many to list here. I'll give you just one hypothetical one.

Norm: "Morning, Tracy; glad you're here. What did you think of the ending of my book?"
Tracy: "I don't know....I haven't finished it yet."
Norm: "It's hard to find time to read."
Tracy: "Yeah. I know I promised I'd get it back to you today. I just had so much to do this weekend that I couldn't get it finished on time. That's not an excuse, just an explanation. I'll have it for you tomorrow, I promise."
Norm: "When you bring it to me, would you rather be here at eleven or right after work?"
Tracy: "Right after work would be better."
Norm. "Fine. I'll see you then."

I'm going to assume, for reasons of space, that Norm's strategic moves are obvious to you. If they aren't, please ask me and I'll explain. Notice when Norm uses personal vocabulary, and when he avoids it. And notice Norm's use of what is called "the illusion of choice." He doesn't offer Tracy a choice about whether or not to return the book; he presupposes -- with "When you bring it to me" -- that Tracy will return it. He does, however, offer Tracy a choice about when the return should take place. This is a way of preserving face for Tracy while at the same time maintaining the principle that the book must be promptly returned -- which preserves face for Norm.

Suzette


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 19, 2000 6:30 pm 
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Norm: "Morning, Tracy; glad you're here. What did you think of the ending of my book?"
Tracy: "I don't know....I haven't finished it yet."
Norm: "It's hard to find time to read."

Tracy: "I plan to take it on vacation with me next month. I really appreciate your giving it to me."

???? Now what???


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 19, 2000 6:57 pm 
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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by gmattson:
Tracy: "I plan to take it on vacation with me next month. I really appreciate your giving it to me."

???? Now what???
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Norm: "Oh, I'm sorry if I wasn't clear that I was lending it! Isn't that just like me to do that?
"But I really do need it back; I've promised to lend it to J. D. ( and you know how he gets!); would it be more convienient for you to drop it off tomorrow or for me to come over to pick it up tonight? And you can get your own copy at Barnes & Noble...."

Which accomplishes the following:

Takes the onus off Tracy for the "miscommunication;" takes the onus off you because you're being pressured by outside forces (no, not chi!); allows Tracy to save face by choosing how and when to return the item while not putting the ownership up for discussion; gives her a suggestion of where to find her own. Image

Begs the question of how to get it back from J.D. Image

student




[This message has been edited by student (edited February 19, 2000).]


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 26, 2000 2:50 pm 
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I suggested one way that Norm could deal with Tracy's failure to return the book at the agreed-upon time. And then came a followup -- "But what if Tracy says....." If I were to propose a way to deal with that question, there would be a followup -- "But what if...." And that would go on ad infinitum. (If you want to see examples of that kind, you'll find hundreds of them in my verbal self-defense books, which you can get through your library.) What's most important is not what I would suggest that you say in a given situation; what's most important is that you understand the principles that I am using when I construct the suggested responses. That way, your own fluent mastery of your language will let you construct your own responses without any help from me. You use the same brain and the same mental grammar to construct responses that you use to construct new "What if...." examples; you know the rules for doing so because they're stored in your mental grammar. Let me see if I can sort this out a bit.

Every utterance pair in a potentially hostile encounter [that is: X says something; Y responds] is a new beginning. (I use the term "utterance" because there's no way to know whether it will be a sentence, several sentences, a few words, or what.) Your verbal opponent makes the opening move, in the form of an utterance -- a sequence of language. You make a move in response, in the form of an utterance. That utterance pair is now over, and it ended however it ended; that is, your opponent either did or didn't achieve his/her goal. It's now your opponent's move; he/she can attack again, change the subject, beg for mercy -- whatever; that starts a new utterance pair, which you will close by responding. Because we cannot know what the opponent will say next, and because the number of things that might be said in each case is literally infinite, that's the way it works. You learn from each utterance pair in a language interaction. That learning is feedback, and what you learn will presumably be part of the information on which you base your response to the next move coming at you from that opponent. But you have to treat each move as new, and respond to it in the moment.

After you have practiced verbal self-defense for a while you begin to see patterns in language interactions. Your opponent will open in a particular way, you'll respond, and his/her next move will make you think, "Oh -- I've done this one before" and plan ahead. Much of what you do will become almost automatic. (Verbal abusers don't, in my experience, have much imagination; they rarely innovate. I'm always surprised and delighted when one of them comes up with something I haven't encountered hundreds of times before; I put such examples -- truly innovative verbal abuse -- in my books, to be learned from.) But even when you recognize a familiar pattern, the opponent may surprise you by doing something unexpected; you have to give your full attention to each move so that you can respond appropriately.

The communication goals your verbal opponent has will vary; you find out what the goal is by paying attention to the moves. Some possibilties (by no means a complete list) are: showing off, either for you or for an audience of bystanders; picking a fight with you to prove that the opponent has that power to do that and can "push your buttons"; getting emotional attention from you; causing you pain [this one is rare; in adults it's likely only from sadists, and sadists are rare]; establishing dominance in a group; sparring, as a sport.

The only way to get past the stage at which responding to each of your opponent's moves requires a lot of conscious work on your part is to practice.

Suzette

PS: Remember that "opponent" doesn't mean "enemy" other than by coincidence, any more than "sparring partner" means "enemy" other than by coincidence.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 26, 2000 6:29 pm 
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Interesting topic. Perhaps someone could clarify for me...I understand we learn behaviour at birth and reactions reinforce that behaviour. If we whine and get our way we continue to whine throughout our adult life. If as a child a temper tantrum produces the result we seek we throw tantrums till we die. If a smile works, we'll use it to death. Perhaps a simple, "No. I do not have the money (book) or whatever to give and not get back" would suffice. How would that be...take away the reinforcing behaviour.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 26, 2000 8:02 pm 
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Certainly, simply passing on a relationship in which a person acts badly ( blames others for problems, calls names, fails to take responsibility) is a viable alternative, although i fear we could end up very lonely, since we all make errors from time to time.

mary's suggestion ("sorry, i don't have a book to lend someone who doesn't return things" may well be a necessary step at some point. unfortunately it is likely to be heard like this "i simply don't trust you because you are irresponsible" which is likely to destroy relationships, not build them.

if the communication partner is the cashier at the grocery or someone you see once a week at work, this is not likely to be a great loss. if however, we are talking about your child, spouse, parent, etc., then sending the message "i don't trust you" is likely to make your life more complicated, and not to "save face" for your communication partner. i guess it's the equivalent of avoiding a fight with a punch.

there is a great deal of literature on verbal violence/abuse, and 90% of it indicates it's a lost cause and your best method for dealing with it is to cut and run (see patricia evans "the verbally abusive relationship" and many others.) suzette's verbal self defense series is the only place i have found constructive methods for working through these interactions. everything else says "get therapy..." which is long, irritating and very indirect...not to mention more expensive.

hope that clears it up.

yona


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 26, 2000 8:22 pm 
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Yona...please allow me to go into a bit more detail. I believe that honest communication is very important. I would not want to have a tone of distrust in my "above" statement. Personally, I would follow that up with a "me" statement which tries to alleviate blame. "I find it frustrating when I lend items that are not returned. Perhaps we can sit down and discuss what can be done so I don't feel this way." I sensed by your post you were frustrated. A meaningful dialogue with the individual may be the first step towards that communication without laying blame. My point above was that the person keeps asking and you keep giving....there are two sides there...perhaps they don't see yours. You must let them know. There are several ways to do that and you should choose a method that works for both of you.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 28, 2000 3:46 pm 
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Yona writes that "there is a great deal of literature on verbal violence/abuse, and 90% of it indicates it's a lost cause and your best method for dealing with it is to cut and run (see Patricia Evans' _The Verbally Abusive Relationship_ and many others.)"

I agree. The problem with the verbal violence/abuse literature is that almost all of it completely ignores body language -- including ignoring intonation and tone of voice, which are the most powerful parts of body language for English. The Evans book doesn't even have an entry for those items in its index. People are instructed in these books to say things to verbal abusers like "I will not put up with that sort of talk"; that's called "setting limits" or "establishing boundaries." Nowhere in the books do the authors point out that "I will not put up with that sort of talk" (and all the other proposed utterances of that kind) can be spoken in a host of different ways, some of which are likely to put the speaker in danger of physical abuse as well as verbal abuse.

This situation is caused by two factors. (1) Authors who are native speakers of English and not trained in linguistics often take it for granted that the sentence they "hear" in their mind as they write their words down will be "heard" by the reader in exactly the same way. This is a dangerous assumption, and rarely accurate. This is what makes printed lists of "Things to Say When...[X]..." so dangerous. For English, speech quoted in writing is naked of its emotional message; the emotional message is added when the words are said aloud, and there's no way to guarantee that they'll be said the way the writer intended. (2) Even when authors are aware of this problem, they have to fight their book editors for permission to use unconventional punctuation as a way to get around it. In my verbal self-defense books I write my examples like "WHY are you leaving early??!" and "Why are you leaving EARly?" and "Why are YOU leaving early??" and so on, to give the readers some clues to the emotional messages carried by the words. But I have to fight my editors for permission to do even that much, every single time. Editors _hate_ unconventional typefaces and punctuation; if the author isn't willing to really get in there and insist, all of those sentences will appear in his/her book simply as "Why are you leaving early?" That's absurd, but it's the way things are in the real world. These authors shouldn't have to take full blame if their editors refuse to let them provide these graphics clues, especially for a first book. They _should_ be blamed, however, for not providing a page or two explaining the importance of intonation, tone of voice, and other body language, and cautioning their readers about what can happen when the wrong tune is attached to one of their suggested utterances.

When books on verbal violence/abuse provide their suggestions for English speakers with no attention to body language, the results people get from following those suggestions will often be extremely bad. Which is why the authors do, as Yona says, tell you not to have high hopes; they base their predictions on past results, which -- with no attention to body language -- will not have been reassuring.


Mary S writes to suggest saying something along the lines of "I find it frustrating when I lend items that are not returned. Perhaps we can sit down and discuss what can be done so I don't feel this way." When she wrote that sentence down for us, she "heard" it in her mind's ear with a particular tune, one that carried the emotional message she wanted understood by a person hearing it aloud. Unfortunately, we can't tell by looking at the words what that tune was. Was it: "I find it FRUStrating when I LEND items that are not RETURNED! Perhaps we can sit down and discuss what can be DONE so I don't FEEL this way!!"? Was it: "I find it frustrating when I lend items that are not returned....... Perhaps we can sit DOWN....and discuss what can be DONE....so I don't FEEL THIS WAY???" Was it one of a dozen other possible ways to say those words? We can't tell.

I'm not criticizing Mary S -- not at all. She is writing as all of us have been taught to write English, and has done absolutely nothing that can be criticized. The flaw is in the way we're taught to write English, and the way we're kept ignorant of the fact that written English is an impoverished medium for sending emotional messages.

There's a useful device for stating complaints that originated in something called an "I-message," was developed by Thomas Gordon into something called "a three-part assertion message," and then got a bit of tweaking from me to produce what I call simply a "three-part message." This pattern has proved extremely effective as a way of changing behavior -- not a way of educating, or raising consciousness, etc., but as a way of changing behavior. Part One of the three-part message states the exact item of behavior you want changed; Part Two states the emotion you feel about that behavior; Part Three states the consequences of that behavior that provide you with justification for making the complaint. (If and only if no consequences can be stated, a statistic can be used as Part Three.)

Everything in a correctly-constructed three-part message should be concrete and verifiable in the real world. (Part Two is the weakest part in that respect, but should still be verifiable in the sense that the emotion stated is backed up by body language and context.) Ideally, nothing in the message will be anything that a reasonable person could argue with.

Suppose your housemate has promised to water your tomato plants and you've come home and found that he/she didn't water them. Here's a three-part message for that situation: "When you don't water the tomato plants, I feel angry, because plants die without water." Part One ("When you don't water the tomato plants") states the behavior that you want changed, and an observable fact in the real world. Part Two ("I feel angry") states your emotion, backed up by your body language and the context. Part Three "(because plants die without water") states the consequences of the behavior you're complaining about, and an observable fact in the real world. If your housemate is especially touchy and defensive, the message can be put into Computer Mode to preserve face, like this: "When the tomato plants don't get watered, people feel angry, because plants die without water." You have to say your three-part message neutrally, however. If you say it sarcastically or patronizingly....if you say "When YOU don't water the TOMATO plants, I feel ANGry, because plants DIE without water!!!".....a three-part message will work no better than any other confrontational utterance.

Can we re-write the utterance Mary S suggeste, as a three-part message? She suggested this: "I find it frustrating when I lend items that are not returned. Perhaps we can sit down and discuss what can be done so I don't feel this way." We'd begin with "When I lend you a book and you don't return it, I feel frustrated, because....." That leaves the third part -- the real world consequence that justifies making the complaint -- to be filled in. Only Mary S can know what the third part would be. Some possibilities: "because I have to go to my economics class without my textbook"; "because I can't start my term paper without that book"; "because 37% of all borrowed books that aren't returned within three days are never returned." (I made up the statistic for the example -- so far as I know, there's no such statistic.) In Computer Mode: "People who lend books and don't get them back on time feel frustrated, because...." or "When somebody borrows a book and doesn't bring it back on time, people feel frustrated, because..."

The track record for three-part messages is very good. I recommend them. It's wise not to tamper with the pattern -- it's not broken, so there's no need to try to fix it. And when you find that you can't come up with anything to go in the Part Three slot, that usually means that the problem is not with the person you want to complain to but with you yourself; that's useful knowledge.

Finally, about the "Perhaps we can sit down and discuss what can be done so I don't feel this way" item. I don't recommend that as a general rule, although there will be situations when you know it's the appropriate thing to do. For one thing, people who use abusive behavior as a way of getting attention will be thrilled with the opportunity to sit down with you and talk at length, as suggested; you're rewarding their abusive behavior. For another, your three-part message is your _move_ in the situation; once you've sent the message, it should be the other person's move. If you add "Perhaps we can sit down and discuss what can be done so I don't feel this way" to your three-part message you confuse the situation, because you've moved twice instead of once and have given the other person no opportunity to respond in between. You can always say that later if it turns out to be appropriate.

Suzette


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 28, 2000 8:52 pm 
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suzette and mary, many thanks for your replies. this is a subject i am very involved in and making efforts to sort out.

i would like to address something mary referred to: honest communication.

what is honest communication? perhaps this needs a new thread and a definition, like "chi."

my language models when i was a kid were very loud, often quite rude, but generally "honest" in that they were generally truthful..this turns out to be quite an unpleasant way to live, despite the "honesty" involved.

i am coming to the conclusion that the target for communication is first gentleness (to borrow suzette's terminology), then effectiveness (does it accomplish the goal?)
honesty is a given, and although it's important to be truthful, it is not always essential or wise(you might not want to tell your mother-in-law her dress was ugly, even it was!)

when i began to use these techniques i felt manipulative and dishonest. it seemed unnatural and calculated. of course, had my family communicated "gently" i would now feel i was communicating honestly (and spontaneously!) hopefully my kids will have a different experience.

just my thoughts,

yona

by the way- when do i stop being a guppy?


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 29, 2000 12:41 am 
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Soon Yona! Believe you have to post 20 times to be 'promoted'!

As a group, martial artist tend to be behind the times regarding how language (verbal and body) can affect or diffuse a fight. We look at encounters with an eye towards physically defeating an opponent. We don't spend enough time learning how to prevent fights by learning how to 'read' signals our possible opponents are sending.

Since this is our primary focus on this Forum, can we use examples that relate to examples presented in other forums?

For example, on Van Canna Sensei's forum, people have described physical encounters they found themselves in that resulted in fights or the other side backing-off.

I'd like to see how people on this Forum might evaluate some of these situations from a verbal self defense position. What should we be looking for in the 'interview'. Can we diffuse a potential dangerous encounter with words, expressions, body language.

In other words, can we focus the forum using examples that the martial art's community can relate to better than some of the examples we are using.



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PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2000 5:12 am 
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Mattson Sensei and all,

First of all I want to say that I'm not a fighter and I ****** at martial arts. That is to put the following in context. A while back, I travelled across country by Greyhound. Somewhere in Arizona I was smoking a cigarette in the station busyard when this guy basically swaggered up to me out of nowhere and said something like "You gotta be tough! ha ha ha!" and then he flexed his muscles in what could be described as Popeyes stance. He was about the same height as me (5'6") but he was built like a miniature pro wrestler (I'm not). He was wearing cowboy boots, skin tight Levi's and a black bandanna stretched over his skull. In the past I reacted to similar situations by attempting conversation. This time I just looked in his eyes without changing my expression, and waited. I have no idea if this was an attempt at an interview, but the next thing he said was "just kidding" and then we exchanged a couple sentences about the rigors of bus travel. I have used this noncommital tactic other times with good results. I think if someone is trying to interview you, don't be interviewed. If one forces someone to decide the feasibility of further action without any positive or aggravating feedback, maybe they'll move on. It also gives the interviewer the "out" of pretending they weren't really trying anything, without losing face. I bring this up because many times talking has just prolonged the point of either confidence on the part of the interviewer or anger and defensiveness on my part.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2000 5:22 am 
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I can recall the person I consider most effective in collecting money or books at many of the "Shodokan" Dojo's, Newton, Southie, Newton Hut, etc and this is how I suspect they would deal with it.

Tracie walks towards Norm, Susan M. steps out from behind Norm right hand out, eyebrows arched. Tracie turns, runs to car, speeds away, returns in seconds with book!

yona, ozarque, Did I miss something or have you already covered strenghth of personality as a variable in the equation?
Mike


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