6.The Safety Valve in Handling Complaints
Most people trying to win others to their way of thinking do too much talking
themselves. Let the other people talk themselves out. They know more about their
business and problems than you do. So ask them questions. Let them tell you a few
If you disagree with them you may be tempted to interrupt. But don’t. It is dangerous.
They won’t pay attention to you while they still have a lot of ideas of their own crying
for expression. So listen patiently and with an open mind. Be sincere about it.
Encourage them to express their ideas fully.
Does this policy pay in business? Let’s see. Here is the story of a sales representative
who was forced to try it.
One of the largest automobile manufacturers in the United States was negotiating for a
year’s requirements of upholstery fabrics. Three important manufacturers had worked
up fabrics in sample bodies. These had all been inspected by the executives of the motor
company, and notice had been sent to each manufacturer saying that, on a certain day,
a representative from each supplier would be given an opportunity to make a final plea
for the contract.
G.B.R., a representative of one manufacturer, arrived in town with a severe attack of
laryngitis. “When it came my turn to meet the executives in conference,” Mr. R---- said
as he related the story before one of my classes, “I had lost my voice. I could hardly
whisper. I was ushered into a room and found myself face to face with the textile
engineer, the purchasing agent, the director of sales and the president of the company. I
stood up and made a valiant effort to speak, but I couldn’t do anything more than
“They were all seated around a table, so I wrote on a pad of paper: ‘Gentlemen, I have
lost my voice. I am speechless.’
" ‘I’ll do the talking for you,’ the president said. He did. He exhibited my samples and