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The fine jar (『迷惑をかけられた側が罰金を払うという逆転の発想』英語版)

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Good energy expands and so do sighs. In a lecture the other day, we learned an interesting idea which the lecturer had actually observed. It was about having a shared fine jar in the office and when a sigh of grief is expressed, the person should throw in a 100 yen coin into it. In some cases, she even observed that there were 1,000 yen notes, meaning some people had thrown in 10 times worth of sighs into the jar.

This is how it works: When you sigh, regardless whether it's consciously or unconsciously, since it is somewhat annoying to others, you'd symbolically show your apologies by paying 100 yen as a fine and be forgiven. So the person who paid a 1,000 yen note might have let out a big sigh or many sighs. It is also probable that they had gotten some change from the jar.

I thought this was a neat idea. So I expressed this to my friend in a different occasion, and he came up with a brighter idea that he had actually applied in his office.

A member "A" in my friend's group came to him for advice complaining about his group member "B." "A" insisted that "B" had been very aggressive in his oral expressions. In some cases "B" quarrels with "C", "B" even says "C" should die.

My friend then gave him advice saying, "Why don't you have a fine jar to through in a 100 yen coin every time he misbehaves? And yes, you should pay the fine every time"

My friend did not expect "A" to take it seriously but he actually did. "A" came to back to him two months later and said "It has accumulated to about 5,000 yen. It seems his frequency of verbal harassment has decreased."

Later on, the fine jar accumulated to 10,000 yen and it was used for a farewell party held among them, to celebrate both "A" and "B"'s promotion because of their international assignments.

I thought this was a brilliant and revolutionary idea. The one who gets annoyed pays the fine. It works probably because of the following reasons: 1) you can terminate the negative feeling of being annoyed by taking a symbolic action (throwing in a coin to the fine jar), 2) you can actually count how many times you were annoyed, 3) you can improve your relationship with the person who annoyed you since the negative feelings are over, 4) the person who had annoyed you might behaved differently towards you due to your attitude change.

Anyhow, having a fine jar might make the working environment a better place.

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