Old to them

May 3, 2015

“Hi, how tall are you?” “Wow, so tall.” “Did you play basketball?” “You’re very tall.”

Whenever I ventured into a tourist-heavy area in Shanghai or Beijing, I was bombarded by sales pitches. Equally inevitably, every one started with a comment about my height.

Comments about my height don’t bother me; I love being tall. I’d also have thousands of short people out for my blood if I complained. But after the fifth time in fifteen minutes, how effective do you think that lead-in was? How about the hundredth?

Ignore for the moment that these grifters were never going to get anything out of me. They never even made my head turn, which is the point.

Too often we’re focused on our own experience, and miss that of the people we’re talking to. To others, my height is an oddity, but I’m me all the time. If you’re trying to get my attention, don’t comment on my height—I’ve heard that a thousand times. Go deeper.

This has wider applications. Dating, business, storytelling, selling … if you can put yourself in someone else’s shoes and not make the obvious comment, you’ll stand out from the crowd.

Don’t do the same things everyone else does. Go deeper. Shock pleasantly. And if you see me, feel free to comment on my height! Just know that you’re the thousandth person to do so, so if your goal is to stand out, you’re off to a bad start.

As always, thank you for using my Amazon Affiliate link (info).

By Stephen W. Gee

Author of Wage Slave Rebellion, Freelance Heroics, and about two good blog posts out of a hundred.


  1. Reply


    This makes me wonder, as a former salesman, how would you start a sales pitch to yourself?

    1. Reply

      Stephen W. Gee

      Depends on the situation. In a crowded street in Shanghai or Beijing? I wouldn’t. Or maybe I would—as an unusually tall foreigner, I probably would have had more success out of sheer novelty. But I don’t like selling to people where I don’t have permission to pitch to them—real permission, not the tacit permission of being on a certain street or not telling them to fuck off.

      If I were going for an opener with someone, and if I weren’t at the time so socially anxious that I clammed up and said the most obvious thing (which is why I am a former salesman, instead of a current one), I would think of the first thing that comes to my mind … and then say the second thing.

      So if I were going up to myself, I wouldn’t comment on my height. Instead I might comment on my hair, or what I was wearing, or maybe make a comment about the area we’re in. That’s the attitude I try to take when talking to people randomly (say, a woman in a bar, though I rarely bother with that)—what’s the most likely comment she’s liable to get? (A comment about her appearance, what she’s drinking, etc.) Then I say something else.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *