Sometimes it’s not just what you say, but how you say it. I always have a good laugh remembering one time I drank a healthy dose of that particular truth.
You see, my ex is a quality guy. That’s not a character judgment, but rather a statement of his commitment to the best–the best tools, the best playthings, the best electronics, the best everything. And usually the best comes with an equally superlative price tag. Whenever he set out to make a purchase, I braced myself. It’s no wonder I became such an easy target…
Shortly after we moved into our first house, Mr. Quality worked on setting up his stereo for surround sound. Something wasn’t quite right, so he diagnosed the problem and headed for the electronics store. When he got back, he gave me a sheepish grin and said he had something to tell me.
What is it? I asked cautiously.
Well, he said, remember I told you the tweeters in the big speakers weren’t working?
Yeah… I trembled.
Well, when I went to get new ones, I realized we could use some other things, too. Don’t worry, though; these new speakers will really sound great when we watch movies!
How much? I demanded, unamused.
Two thousand dollars, he replied.
WHAT?! I shrieked.
All hell was about to break loose in my kitchen. Only a couple of years out of college (me) and the military (him), we weren’t exactly making a ton of money. Then things took an unexpected turn.
Nah, said Mr. Quality. I’m just teasing. It was only $600.
I exhaled forcefully. Oh, thank goodness! I said, practically crying with relief. That’s not so bad!
Yeah, he said chuckling, I wasn’t sure how you’d take the news about $600 if I just told you outright.
Wait–what? I had totally been played. He was right; I wouldn’t have taken a $600 announcement well. We didn’t have much room in our budget for it, but $600 seemed to be a pittance after I thought we had shelled out $2000.
Thankfully, I’ve always been able to laugh about that little trick. Every time I think of it, I am reminded of how much presentation counts. It really is, as they say, all in the delivery.
And it doesn’t hurt to know your audience, either.