Do you know the difference between in spite of and because of?

Every business has to balance things that its customers like with things that its customers don’t like.  Someone might buy my product in spite of its high price because of its superior quality.  Other people might buy something from Wal-Mart in spite of its lack of social prestige because of its low price.  Sometimes, these relationships are counterintuitive.  That $100 designer T-shirt?  People may buy it in spite of the fact that it is just a T-shirt because of its high price.  In these situations, managers can get confused as to which is which.

Last week, I went to Otto Enoteca Pizzeria down in Greenwich Village.  This is a busy place where the menu consists of three pages of wines and one page of food.  While one of my fellow diners consulted with the sommelier on our wine, I perused the food possibilities.  The food selections consisted of a variety of elaborate pizzas and pastas.  Although there were a few things on the menu that caught my eye, what I really had a hankering for was a basic pizza with sweet Italian sausage.  There was no such thing on the menu, so I asked if I could get a pizza margherita with some sausage added on.  Sadly, the answer was no.  The chef did not permit any substitutions.  After we ordered, my three fellow diners commented on how the place had a good vibe.  I allowed as to how that was the case, but then caused a bit of a stir when I added, “but I will probably never come here again because the chef thinks he is more important than the customers.”

The chef probably thinks that people come there because of his ability to mix ingredients into sublime pizzas, so he thinks that it is important that no one else gets to choose how to combine the ingredients.  In reality, his customers come in spite of his unnecessary restrictions because of any number of other things, not the least of which is that they don’t care as much as I do about being able to order exactly what they want.  If the chef were to relax this policy, he wouldn’t lose any of them, and he would gain all of the people like me.

As it turns out, I might go back to Otto in spite of the no substitutions policy because of the outstanding job our sommelier, Krista, did with our wine selection.  The more in spite ofs that you have, the more because ofs you need to have to compensate.  In this case, Otto has just enough because ofs to compensate for its in spite ofs.  Logically, you should eliminate unnecessary in spite ofs whenever possible so no compensation is necessary.  You should also ask yourself whether any of your because ofs might actually be in spite ofs.  The answer might surprise you.

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