A Simple Strategy to Avoid Paying a Bribe

Alexandra A. Wrage writes on the WrageBlog about Simple Strategies to avoid paying a bribe:

“Our informant carefully prepared himself to meet with a notorious bribe-demanding functionary for the first time. He scripted his approach to the exchange:
(a) Stand quietly at the functionary’s little window until the functionary looked at him,
(b) Smile confidently,
(c) Say “good morning”, followed immediately by
(d) “I am so relieved that I get to talk to you. I have heard that most of the public employees here demand bribes, but I have also heard that you never ask for a one.” (These words are exactly those used.)
(e) Smile, again and describe his request.
(f) Use an expression and body language indicating that he trusts her to give him what he has requested.”

2 Responses to A Simple Strategy to Avoid Paying a Bribe

  1. Charles Green February 20, 2009 at 10:32 am #

    Excellent strategy. It rests, I think, on forcing out into the open a practice which can only exist in the shadows. By inviting the transgressor into the open sunlight, putting transparency on it and openly appealing to some higher level in the transgressor. Or, if you prefer, it forces the transgressor to be blatant about the very thing (s)he doesn’t want to be brought in the open.

    A variation on the theme, this one from the field of consulting. When asked by a superior to “fudge” the facts (about experience, or capabilities, say:

    “sorry, I’m a little confused; let me get clear about this. First, obviously you don’t want me to tell a lie to the client, right?”

  2. Doug Cornelius February 20, 2009 at 11:16 am #

    Charles –

    The strategy in my post relies on knowing that you are going to be asked for the bribe. Effectively, you take the first step by trying to create an honest relationship. You (hopefully) exchange false praise for the lack of a bribe. The falsity of the praise is erased if the functionary refrains from taking the bribe.

    Of course a smile and a “good morning” can go a long a way to helping you deal with any functionary, whether honest or not. I think there is a human instinct to be nice to someone who is nice to you.

    Thanks for stopping by.