Develop a Taste for Deception

I spent the better part of today helping out a friend of mine organize his new middle school band room, and the bulk of that time was spent organizing music in his library into score order. It’s normally an irredeemably tedious task for one musician, but, like many tedious tasks, it vastly improves with the presence of company.

One of the members of our troupe was his master teacher, and she was full of advice for the new music teacher.

Whenever you want something for your classroom, start your sentences with “Things are going great, but I could do so much more with the kids if I had this trinket.”

Another gem, if you see the cure for cancer growing on the crevices of the walls and windows:

Are you sure that all this room is up to Cal/OSHA standards? I mean, I don’t mind, but I’d hate for you to get into trouble.

If you want a whiteboard:

I don’t mind chalkboards, but so many kids have asthma these days — I’m not sure that keeping one around is too prudent, especially because most band members really need to breathe deeply.

Her rule of thumb:

You don’t have to kiss ass, really. You just have to put things delicately.

If I’m ever again going to even consider teaching full-time, I’ll first have to develop a tolerance, if not a taste, for doubletalk. For the time being, while I find this brand of deception somewhat intriguing, I find it far more disgusting.

That’s one of the realities of the work world.

So I’ve heard. Doesn’t stop it from being disgusting.


  1. I too have learned that it’s all about marketing. 🙂

  2. dkzody

    I see it as a dance and it takes a few years to learn the steps. Whether you learn in the world of commerce, or academia, you do have to learn how to dance if you are going to make it around the floor (and survive). Sure, you may not like to dance, but there you are, on a dancefloor, and you gotta do something.

  3. Call me a reluctant wallflower, walking out the door for a bit of fresh air.

  4. I find it odd that you refer to it as deception. While it is tactful to maintain a non-abrasive attitude, I don’t see how it is deceitful. It CAN be, but it doesn’t have to be.

  5. Some of the examples provided are deceitful, and even the ones that are not are pretty openly manipulative. Near enough to the same thing, methinks.

  6. You say manipulative; I say considerate. The world is not only about what YOU want. It is not dishonest to acknowledge others’ perceptions or needs before explaining your own. And while it would be dishonest to pretend that what others see or want is the same as what you see or want, it is not dishonest to look for common ground.

    Case in point: in the first example, I would change “but” to “and.” “But” negates what came in front of it; “and” builds on it. I’d also change the second section of the sentence to say “I’d like to get this trinket, so that I could do even more with the students.” The result is both honest and courteous.

  7. Hm. I hope that came out as … emphatic… perhaps forceful? but not antagonistic.

  8. Sister of Ben

    I agree with the above explanation of requesting needs with tact. It is excellent advice, and advice you should think about.

  9. Ms. Clix: The atmosphere in the room at the time wasn’t one of “I’ll present my case, without the benefit of my own subtle spin.” Rather, the atmosphere was “Let’s work the system, and milk it for every drop.”

    That’s more than being courteous: that’s politics.

    Mrs. Curic: As the brother of the Sister of Ben, I could very easily redirect your words right back at you. Not that this doesn’t make your statement false — just ironic.

    Much love, sister.

  10. Politics (as you’ve described it) is indeed a distasteful and inadvisable bastardization of courtesy. But that doesn’t mean that courtesy is bad – just that its evil twin is! 😉

    Anyway, I think we may actually agree on this; we’re just looking at it from different angles. It can be difficult to be both honest and kind, but neglecting either one is harmful.

  11. Moreover, I’d add that most people don’t have trouble telling the truth, and nothing but the truth. Where they trip up is when it comes down to telling the whole truth. Anything short of that, and you’re short some courtesy.

    If being courteous were her top priority, she would have included a polite admission that she understands that the budget is stretched really thin. Invoking the threat of Cal/OSHA, on the other hand, is more like browbeating than anything else.

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  13. I simply passed this on a co-worker who was doing a little research on that.

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