The secret of achieving more by saying less is sometimes
accomplished by saying nothing at all. I
know that from my own experience as a court room lawyer.
Oftentimes I have listened carefully to a witness (who I had anticipated might be damaging to my case) being led carefully through his or her evidence and when opposing counsel sits down I realise that the witness said nothing at all that would harm my client.
Be content to act and leave the talking to others - Gracian
It is very tempting on those occasions to explore the
witness’s evidence further, but to do so often ends with the witness coming out
with something unexpected that you really don’t want the court to hear.
The better course is to stand up politely,
smile and say “No questions, thank you.”
Sometimes it surprises the judge; sometimes it surprises the jury.
But those words are extremely powerful for they effectively say, “This witness has said nothing important and you can discard what has been said. It doesn’t hurt my client or his case.”
People like to talk about themselves. The temptation is to talk at people rather
than listen and it is really ineffective.
If you are a salesman, resist the temptation to hit your customer with a
heavy sales patter and remember you are there to sell. If the customer appears to know what she
wants, listen to her.
She will tell you everything you need to know, she will leave with what she wants and will also convince herself that you are good to do business with.
Lucy and Brian Walker bought a house with magnificent
views over the bay.
In the evenings they witnessed the most beautiful sunsets from their drawing room.
The only difficulty was that they had to stand
up in order to see them. The window was
set just a little too high in the wall so seated all they could see was the
So they decided that they would
have a much larger “picture” window fitted almost from wall to ceiling in size
with a window opening at the top.
Then they would be able to sit in their armchairs and view amazing sunsets whenever they wished. They knew precisely what they wanted.
They invited a firm of double glaze window fitters to
quote for the job. The salesman arrived
and Brian explained in detail what was wanted.
The salesman then proceeded at length to explain the nature of the
product and produced a model with moving parts.
Brian politely told him that they were aware of the benefits of this
firm’s windows, that was precisely why he had been invited to call, and he
needed no further information except a price.
But the salesman persisted. Brian
was too polite to kick him out until three hours had passed when he could take
The disgruntled salesman left
without making a sale complaining he hadn’t been listened to.
Lucy and Brian saw three further representatives from double-glazing companies before they found one who immediately accepted that they knew what they wanted, offered a reasonable price and landed the sale.
Does that sound like a familiar tale to you? Sometimes the customer doesn’t need further information and will tell you when he doesn’t.
Then is the time to keep quiet and concentrate on making the sale. If, in those circumstances, you keep quiet and listen, the customer will tell you everything you need to know.
You can also learn much from another person’s eyes.
Sometimes you will meet people at parties or business
gatherings who you could overwhelm with your career or family exploits, and we
have all seen people doing that.
They become the party bore. For a while people are crowded around them but, as the event progresses, they drift away and others move sharply when the bore is seen coming towards them.
As I said, people like to talk about themselves. They don’t want to listen to you
endlessly. If they are a little shy,
probe gently to find out what their interests are.
Or ask them about their family. Once they get going they will gain in
confidence and you will only have to give the conversation a little nudge here
Your part in the conversation may be very small, but they will remember you for the feeling you gave them, not the words you spoke, and you can be sure they will have a high opinion of you.
If you every need to write a letter of complaint, keep
it short. Hospitals and medical
organisations receive thousands of letters every year often written by bereaved
relatives complaining about the treatment a loved one has received at a
particular hospital or from a particular doctor or nurse, or even a whole
string of them.
Sometimes the complaints are not very logical and run to many, many pages, not only rehearsing the facts but also arguments and counter-arguments to imagined responses that might be made.
Don’t ever be tempted to do that. It does not help your complaint and merely
means that the complaint handler at the other end has to spend a very long time
attempting to unravel what you are trying to explain, and the danger is that it
will not be dealt with efficiently.
Spell out your grievance simply, clearly and chronologically, avoid argument and avoid comments and opinions of your own.
You are likely to achieve a much better and quicker result by doing so.
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