I am trying to remember the name of a book I read mid-to-late 1990s. I don't remember it being either a really small or massive paperback book. It was from a second hand shop (I think), so probably published late 1970s or early 1980s.
Things I remember about the book:
- Humans were the universe's diplomats
- We introduced the galaxy to red tape
- There were aliens involved in the stories, normally asking us to help resolve some issue (one was around a long running war/dispute)
- All looks/actions/emotions could be described using codes
The codes caused conversations between characters like:
"Did you just give me a XX103 (Mild Shock) look?"
"No it was a XX103a (Mild Shock with an understanding glance), why would I give you a XX103?"
The book was centered on a particular person who started off as a junior diplomat but was the one solving all the problems - often with indirect threats of (or direct application of) violence.
I thought it might be "Stainless Steel Rat" series, but it isn't, but I think it was around that era of publication.