July 24, 2009

I just finished piloting a survey for the Returns to Business Management Consulting project, and was often in awe of their abilities.  A good surveyor can say nice to meet you, shake your hand, and five minutes later have you saying things you wouldn't share with a spouse.  When I first started here, I often thought my surveyors knew a respondent from their “schooling days” (as we say in Ghana) – but when asked, their response was invariably, “No, I’ve only just met him.”

It can be both a blessing and a curse to be surrounded by a bunch of smooth talkers.  It’s a blessing any time you want to buy… anything at all, really.  And it’s a curse when you try to negotiate their own contracts, and they throw their full powers of persuasion at you.

One example: in a taxi on the way to the field, we decided to change our destination mid-trip to someplace closer.  The surveyor in the front started negotiating a lower rate:

“I should give you two because now you will be able to pick someone else and earn more money.  And I am not just saying this.  My mouth has power.  When I speak, you know it to be true.  So I will give you two, and you will earn more.  Can I hear an amen?”

Guess how much we paid?