Scripture tells us that a soft answer turneth away wrath. A witty repartee sometimes helps one immensely also.
When Richard Olney was secretary of state he frequently gave expression to the opinion that appointees to the consular service should speak the language of the countries to which they were respectively accredited. It is said that when a certain breezy and enterprising western politician who was desirous of serving the Cleveland administration in the capacity of consul of the Chinese ports presented his papers to Mr. Olney, the secretary remarked:
"Are you aware, Mr. Blank, that I never recommend to the President the appointment of a consul unless he speaks the language of the country to which he desires to go? Now, I suppose you do not speak Chinese?"
Whereupon the westerner grinned broadly. "If, Mr. Secretary," said he, "you will ask me a question in Chinese, I shall be happy to answer it." He got the appointment.