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this week's Marketing
Pick Your Battles
We all get angry while at our
computers sometimes. When you
get into a tiff with someone,
though, and there's a heated
back and forth where you feel
determined to batter the other
person into submission with your
keyboard, pause. Take a
time-out. Think: Is this blowup
consistent with my values? If
this exchange went viral, would
it show me in a positive light?
Last week, a Harvard Business
School professor was taken to
task on the air, online and in
print for letting his
self-righteous crusading get out
of hand. He had been overcharged
$4 on takeout and complained to
the family-owned Chinese
The restaurant responded right
away, saying the online menu
hadn't been updated, offering to
refund the discrepancy. The
professor demanded triple
damages ($12) and threatened to
report the restaurant to
Someone leaked the exchange to
Boston.com, and nearly everyone
reading the series of emails
found the restaurant
representative humble and
accommodating and the professor
bullying, without any sense of
Who was right? It doesn't
matter. The professor lost.
He apologized and probably
wishes he could rewrite the
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