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LifeHacks


21
Oct 11

Cognitive bias and personality types

Knowledge of cognitive bias and personality types should determine who you ask for advice.  For instance, a friend of mine differs from me in personality.  While I prefer solitude, silence, skepticism and endurance sports (as a participant, not an observer), he prefers noise, people, faith (in people) and team sports (as a fan).  For those familiar with the concept, we lie on different ends of the Autistic spectrum (me near Aspberger’s Syndrome, him neurotypical).  I recently spoke to him about a new investment strategy he was considering.  I was not surprised to realize that we suffer from different cognitive biases due to our different personality types.

 © by Casey Serin

We talked about the new strategy for quite a while, and I did not understand how it could work in real life.  To judge from the marketing material the seller sent over, it seemed like a prime example of survivorship bias.   I told my friend this, and he said he was not concerned as he trusted the person selling it to him.

Having to trust the person selling the investment product to you irritated me.   Why should that matter? I’ve found investment decisions to be an easy process in concept.

  • Step 1 – Find something you understand, that has an acceptable level of risk and maintenance.
  • Step 2 – Buy it from someone who will deliver as promised, i.e. 100 shares of VTIVX for example.
  • Step 3 – Profit!
To me, the hard part has always been understanding the investment.   Buying from someone has always been easy.
My friend sees the investing process in the following way:
  • Step 1 – Find someone you trust and seems knowledgeable about investment
  • Step 2 – Buy from that person
  • Step 3 – Profit!
To be fair, my friend gets along with people far better than I do.  I defer to his judgement on matters involving people.  For fans of Jonathan Haidt and the Heath Brothers, we would make a good team of the elephant and the rider).   His talents lie in reading people, my talents lie in reading systems.
I think I am in the right on this particular investing decision, we will know in 20 years which one of us made the right call.  The conversation made me wonder what other subjects we might differ on, and who would have the better judgement.  Here is a preliminary list:
Advantage Me:
  1. Investing
  2. Design
  3. Programming
  4. Mechanical objects
  5. Physical Organization
Advantage My Friend:
  1. Interviewing
  2. Public speaking
  3. Performances
  4. Management of people
  5. Conflict Resolution
I guess the moral of this little diatribe has been to consider where you get your advice.  For non-people related matters, talk to someone like me, for the human element, talk to someone like my friend.

Editor’s Note

This blog post originally appeared on the Profit Awareness Blog - as that app is up for sale, it has been consolidated into the main Digital Tool Factory blog.


20
Jul 11

The introvert’s guide to getting out of bank fees

Do you wind up paying bank fees because you’re introverted, shy, quiet, or just too well bred to complain about such things?  There’s no need to pay the fees.  Here’s how to get out of them.

I recently bounced a check because I chose the wrong account in the online bill paying process (I have two accounts with that bank, one of which I rarely use).  I had tons of money in the other account.  I got hit with a $35 fee and a warning that they would hit me with another fee if I did not make the account cash positive in five days.

This fee annoyed me.  I started with this bank  in 1998, how dare they charge me anything?

I decided to get out of the fee, with a modified version of the script from the best personal finance blog ever.  I say modified because the past few times that I’ve used Ramit’s script verbatim it hasn’t worked, so I changed it to fit the situation and my conversational strengths.

Here’s what I did

First I put money in the account to show good faith and put myself on the moral high ground.  Then I waited two days.

Then I called, somewhat awkwardly (I’m not great at this sort of thing, but I’m getting better) and asked nicely for the bank to remove the fee.  The customer service rep very nicely refused.

I then

  1. Explained what happened, telling him how I made an innocent mistake
  2. Told him I have money in the other account, (politely saying I’m not a deadbeat)
  3. Reminded him that I demonstrated good faith by putting money in the account (politely saying I won’t bounce another check)
  4. Told him that I expect the fee to be removed (politely saying I know my position in the relationship with them)
  5. Went into a detailed history of my dealings with this bank for the past many years
  6. Name dropped (I made up the names) the people I have dealt with at the bank over the years

Then I come to a full stop and enjoyed the silence, waiting for him to move next.  Note, I did not end with a question.  This is key.  If you end on a question, people can give you a short answer.  If you bury the question within a wall of statements,  people feel obligated to refute your entire argument (which took me about five minutes to deliver).  Did he check with his supervisor if it was okay to refund the money “Just this once”?  Yes he did.

Why did all of this work?  I emphasized

  • I was a good, loyal client
  • Management notices when long-standing clients leave
  • I was nice
  • I was long winded
  • To tell me no again would extend the call by at least ten minutes, I clearly had all the time in the world and he had no clear reason to hang up on me
  • All it would take to get me to go away is the refund

If they are going to bend the rules for someone, they are going to bend them for me, so they did.

The takeaway:- If you’re long-winded and don’t end with a question you make customer service do more work, which they don’t want to do, so they give in.  Try it out.

PS – the code word for this type of fee forgiveness is “Relationship Refund“.

 

Editor’s Note

This blog post originally appeared on the Profit Awareness Blog - as that app is up for sale, it has been consolidated into the main Digital Tool Factory blog.