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Doing customer support, I learned the wonders of the phrase "I'm sorry to hear that". It sounds a whole lot like an apology, and angry customers will treat it as an apology... but if you're paying attention, it's really, really not.


(Monday. INT: Gym, Ty Harlen is preparing to lead a class on self defense.)

TH: Hey, Ellen. You're not in your sweats.
EB: Yeah, I wanted to talk to you. I'm dropping this class.
TH: Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. Can I ask why?
EB: I recently had the opportunity to spar with someone outside of the confines of these padded walls, and he kicked my ass pretty thoroughly.
TH: Well, you've only been training with us for six months, Ellen. I'd hardly expect you to be able to go toe to toe with a trained professional.
EB: Actually, the guy who did it had no training in martial arts whatsoever.
TH: Still, I'm guessing he had the weight and reach advantage over you.
EB: Not by much. And he was in a neck brace, and only had the use of his left arm.
TH (nervously): Well, the real benefit of this class isn't necessarily in the ability to beat people up. It's all about building assertiveness and self-esteem.
EB: You know, you're right. Six months ago, I never would have had the assertiveness to ask you for my fucking money back.