The importance of clear and lucid methods of statement is not appreciated by many young people who are anxious to get on in the world. They take too long in coming to the point. Often this is because they fail to realize exactly what they want to say. They try to make up their minds while talking or writing, instead of doing so beforehand. Some people can only think while they are expressing themselves. This is a bad habit.
Revision and re-writing are useful methods of self-education. Nothing is more irritating to a busy man than a long-winded garrulous letter or visitor, particularly when the writer or caller wants a favor. It is a common error to imagine that one's object can be achieved by a tortuous approach instead of a plain, direct statement. The result is irritation and an unnecessary waste of time in preliminaries. It does not mean, of course, that the visitor should dash hurriedly into the room and blurt out the object of his visit. Consistently with good manners, he should state his business as quickly and briefly as he can. But he should be careful to state it. Many people occupy so much time in preliminary and non-essentials that they omit matters of importance.
There is another type of caller who often overshoot the mark by overwhelming the person he is addressing with forcible arguments. Most people do not like to be argued with. They prefer to hear the facts and to be allowed to draw their own concessions. The terse, direct mode of address is not, however, suited to all occasions. For instance, when selling or trying to sell certain classes of goods, such as motor cars, or ladies' garments, a chatty manner is an advantage. The same applies to the sale or letting of properties. The novice must always bear in mind that the object is to convince. The question is how this best can be done in the particular case. In the war we talked much of the will to win. The will to do the business in hand is equally important. No general rules can be laid down as to the best method to be adopted. Transactions differ, and so do individuals. The manner that suits the company promoter, anxious to acquire a big business for flotation, would be unsuitable for the family butcher anxious to sell the family joint to a careful housewife.
Knowledge of human nature is most valuable. Some people have an intuitive perception of character. Others learn it by experience. But everyone gains by experience. The business man is often called upon to deal with the vain, the irascible, the touchy, the impatient and the sensitive. In such circumstances tact is a valuable ally. In dealing with irascible people it is well to let them have their say and not to attempt to argument. Argument only makes things worse. When they have expressed their feelings, they are usually ready to consider the subject calmly. In dealing with touchy people it is well to avoid treading on their corns. If you see that you have grazed a corn that you did not know, it is well to apologize, directly or indirectly, and to pass to another subject. The same remark applies to the sensitive. In dealing with impatient people it is well to endeavor to meet their mood and to state your points as quickly as you can. Some people are quick in the uptake and others are slow. It is a mistake to imagine that people have been grasped and that repetition will not be regarded as tedious or as an insult.
It should be carefully noted that courtesy and interest are the two most valued qualities in a salesman. The necessity for courtesy is obvious, but a person may be courteous without being interested. Many salesmen fail to realize how much all customers appreciate a keen interest in their requirements. Buyers will excuse lack of knowledge if they believe the salesman is doing his best, and is anxious to meet their wishes.
Then again some busy men enjoy a little talk on matters associated with business, while others regarding such weaknesses with contempt. Further, what would be considered an act of impertinence in a stranger is often welcomed from a friend or acquaintance. Generally speaking, men are sociable, friendly creatures even the hardest of them who are slow in grasping a subject are lacking in ability. If you see that a person is quick-minded, try to live up to him and refrain from annoying him by repeating yourself and working your points. If you see that he is a slow thinker, do not try to hurry him, and if necessary recapitulate. But before indulging in much recapitulation it is desirable to satisfy yourself that your points have not been grasped and that repetition will not be regarded as tedious or as an insult.