Business relations are due primarily to mutual interests. Men who dislike each other will usually put their feelings in their pockets if it pays them to do so. But much business is the result of appreciation or a community of interest in matters other than business. Many years ago I knew a man who owed his prosperity to a gift for mental arithmetic. A customer with whom the firm he represented had never been able to do much business was so taken with his arithmetical feats that he gave the firm the whole of his orders and thus laid the foundation for the traveler’s success in life.
It is often assumed that manufacturers and others will welcome suggestions for improved methods, usually accompanied by the suggestion that they should purchase some new appliance, or employ the person making the suggestion to give effect to it. Different people regard such proposals in different ways, but generally speaking, they are not received with favor unless tactfully presented. It is one thing to say, “You ought to buy that,” or “Do so and so at once,” and another to remark” Have you seen that? or “Would this interest you?” Of course much depends upon who makes the proposal. If it be made by a firm of standing, with a well-established reputation for supplying, say, machinery of a certain kind, everyone in the trade will at once pay attention to the novelty, but if it be made by a firm with no credentials, the salesman will have to mind his P’s and Q’s if he wishes to secure a hearing.
When engaged on business of importance, it is useful to know something about the man you are going to meet, so as to avoid blundering remarks. For instance, a visitor calling upon a Roman Catholic might occasion serious umbrage by an incidental remark concerning the Pope. On the other hand, the visitor, if himself a Roman Catholic would commit a gross breach of taste by remarking, “I think we belong to the same faith.” Most people properly resent such obvious appeals to bias.
Mutual interests should be allowed to emerge in natural fashion. Ingenuity in coping with a situation is a great asset. This is especially valuable when a person is faced with the necessity of ‘finding employment or bettering himself. It is rarely that the applicant offers anything of special advantage to the employer. As a rule, he merely states the usual bread and butter qualifications of one sort or another, and proffer devoted service. It may be said this should suffice. So it does if the employer has a vacancy, but, if there is none, obviously a special inducement must be offered. It may be said also that opportunities for suggestions are few. That may be so, but if opportunities are few the persons who take advantage of those available are fewer still. Practical initiative is extremely rare. This applies to large and small things. Few people can conceive and make a business. There are many who can carry it on and extend it.