Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Everything tastes better with a spoonful of honey

He that lies with dogs comes up with fleas.  The love of money is the root of all evil. Nice guys finish last.  Threatening with colorful negativity, these sayings hold a certain amount of truth.   But when it comes to practical application, I prefer a “do” to a “don’t.”  You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar, after all.  Just be nice.   It’s what we do in polite society.  Or do we?  Well . . . not so much.  Just look at politicians, warmongers, and creepy bosses. 

But I’m not saying that a little meanness isn’t warranted at times.  Sometimes, you need to get tough if you want to be treated fairly.  I learned that the hard way; too many times, I’d just roll over instead of standing up for myself.  So I adopted writing as a means of expressing myself.  While other students grumbled about English, I majored in it.  As a result, I learned to write reasonably well--at least when it came to writing
letters of complaint.  After a few false starts, I learned the value of honey-coating my indignation and adopted a temperate style of letter-writing.  An example follows.

Dear So and So.  [Name of CEO or manager]  We were impressed with the quality of your sheets.  [Compliment]  The bedbugs must have been pleased as well.  [Complaint]  I expect high standards from you, and that’s why I chose Hotel FancySchmancy.  [Compliment]  Because of your reputation, I’m sure you to want to know when bugs feast on your customers.  [Appeal to their professional standards]  We may want to use your hotel again, [fat chance] so I hope that you’ll credit my account 25 percent.  [Concrete, reasonable suggestion]

Letters like these really work.  I’ve received apologetic phone calls, airline vouchers, checks, gift certificates, and coupons through the years. 

You might not want to catch flies, but try some honey if you change your mind. 


  1. Bonnie, I agree that it's important to let companies know when they have not met the standards they have set for themselves and we have come to expect. When Anily was just born we had several diaper mishaps (I'll spare you the gory details) with the same package of high-priced diapers. I wrote the company and they were glad I got in touch. They sent me several coupons/vouchers for free diapers and asked for me to send a defected one back for inspection. In my email I applied a similar formula that you suggested above. : ) I like your side notes...pretty funny!

  2. Thanks, Traci, and good for you! But did you have to send back a used defective diaper for inspection? :-)

    I think the most I ever got was the price of an airline ticket, and that happened twice. After hearing of my successes, one of my friends wrote when a plastic bag tore open, unloading a large can of beans onto her foot and breaking four toes in the process. She got $100 for each toe.