In a recent episode of The Sporkful (with guest Eric Zorn of the Chicago Tribune), an Eater in New Hampshire named Josh called in to address a familiar problem...
You're with a group of people, some of whom you don't know so well, and you're trying to figure out where to go to dinner. The group is having trouble agreeing. Some people claim not to care, but then they turn down the options others suggest.
Josh lays out his strategy as follows:
You can't be too quick to shoot down bad suggestions, in part because you may hurt someone's feelings and in part because if you come across as the person who shoots everything down, you'll lose credibility. So don't enter the conversation too early.
"Let the conversation get to that indecision moment," he explains, "and then you're going to step in and save the day with this magic phrase. And you're going to say this very politely but very decisively. You use the phrase, 'Someone told me about a place.'"
Josh likes this approach because it "shifts the responsibility away from everyone in the car," and adds a vague sense of objective authority. But there are pitfalls.
"You can't let the other people realize what's happening, so you have to be really smooth, or they're going to know that you're just trying to manipulate them."
It's a good tip, although we haven't heard yet whether Josh's decision to divulge this technique on The Sporkful has rendered his manipulative powers impotent.
Photo: Flickr CC / zigazou76