Every transaction in the field of business whether a trifling sale or the final agreement in a ten-million-dollar combination of interests passes through an intensely critical stage in which all depends upon how the individual expresses himself, in writing or in the more delicate medium of speech. A moment’s reflection must convince anyone of the absolute truth of this statement. Almost in the same thought follows the inevitable conclusion that anyone who expects to handle important affairs should prepare himself for putting his proposals through at this crucial point.
It is a mistake to think that even the greatest and most logical courses of action will win acquiescence on the soundness of the proposition alone. Even in the business whose motto is that figures cannot lie, many a bank of imposing resources is gradually being caught up with by an institution whose balance sheets show much smaller figures, but whose directing officer has a warm hand-clasp and a human way of discussing financial problems that make men bring their banking business to him.
Every business man, whether he would or not, must be a salesman, and the medium of salesmanship is language, the world’s code of signals.
This observation is not mine alone; it was held and professed by the late Mr Brinston (he who launched a thousand powerpoint presentations), who brought so much to our workaday world in the way of business communication. In his famous treatise on the use of graphical means to convey the impact of facts and figures. I reproduce a quote of his work here:
Even after a businessman has collected, collated and analysed his data, with all due diligence and insight, and has made up his own mind on the most germane course of action, his task is yet incomplete. For now, there remains the greater bulk of his labours before him. I speak of the necessity of producing a change of thought in the minds of his colleagues. That spark of insight must be made a blazing torch to shed enlightenment into the shadowy recesses of doubt. He must demonstrate, in the face of objections and indecision, that his proposed course is both sage and necessary. Countless times throughout history, in business and in the destiny of nations, correct courses of action have been neglected or considered with disdain because of the ignorance of others and the inability of the speaker to present intricate details when challenged by a detractor. So often, he has been left to fume and rail powerlessly as obviously incorrect policies have been enforced, to the ultimate detriment of his organisation. Ultimately, this is due to an inability to present the facts in a way that can be understood.
For business to be vital and effective, it relies upon the rapid and correct relay of the systems of communication and transport that are available. This compares to the blood vessels of an organism; it is the very pulse of commerce. And yet, but for one thing, these vessels are rendered null. I speak now of communication itself – the lifeblood of today’s concern. This is the most fundamental medium of exchange between individuals.
We speak of money as the medium of exchange, in terms of which all property values are measured and transfers determined. With equal truth we may say that the actual medium of human exchange is language, in which every human thought must be minted before it is intelligible to other people.