My big brother posted something on the wisdom of, upon having a complaint, a product which doesn't work, working conditions you're not happy with etc, instead of prefacing everything rudely and aggressively as most people do (he doesn't actually use these words) we start off with a compliment, eg "this is a great product and maybe we could make it even better by..."
Now, this could well work. Not being customer facing as such I can only hazard a guess the effect it would have on the browbeaten customer services 'agent' who receives nothing but attitude all day long due to something which isn't one's fault.
It's really difficult to do though - try it - and you might sometimes feel like a complete clown doing so (and maybe look like one too).
Furthermore, whilst irrascible and intimidating people might benefit from using this strategy, I doubt the wisdom of self-deprecating or mousy people in effect exacerbating this fault.
It's also not new advice, Dale Carnegie wrote an entire book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, espousing just such an approach, way back in 1936.
I've heard tell that he in fact committed suicide, though this isn't referenced in his wikipedia entry, for what that's worth...
Still, it was a great post and he's a great blogger, I don't know if we could improve on it in any way..
Seth's Blog-the original internet marketing guru (he'd put it in a much less hackneyed way than that)