Saturday, May 21, 2011

Friendship of Utility

I've never been what one would call a "people person." People are tremendously complicated, unpredictable, and sometimes baffling and infuriating. However, I've now gotten myself into a career where dealing with people is a significant portion, perhaps the majority, of the job. (It seems like all jobs these days require dealing with people or very advanced math. Given the choice between the two I'll take the people any day.)

Fortunately, my pol/econ tradecraft class has a session for that. It probably ought to be called "How to Win Friends and Influence People" but is in fact entitled "Managing Contacts." We learned how many we should have (somewhere between 10 and 150) and were reminded to give them a card or a phone call every so often to keep them happy. We were informed as to how we might entertain them on the embassy's dime but advised that there were not so many dimes available so we should keep our plans modest. Apparently in diplomatic circles Americans are notorious for penny-pinching.

It reminded me of the social interactions system in the Sims: if two people spend enough time together and get enough little green plus signs they can do more interesting things. Things like nudging along negotiations or getting visa referrals. I'll have to work on this.

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