From "Letters from a Self-Made Merchant to His Son" by George Horace Lorimer. 320 words
I remember reading once that some fellows use language to conceal thought, but it's been my experience that a good many more use it instead of thought.
A businessman's conversation should be regulated by fewer and simpler rules than any other function of the human animal. They are:
Have something to say.
Beginning before you know what you want to say and keeping on after you have said it lands a merchant in a lawsuit or the poorhouse, and the first is a short cut to the second. I maintain a legal department here, and it costs a lot of money, but it's to keep me from going to law.
It's all right when you are calling on a girl or talking with friends after dinner to run a conversation like a Sunday-school excursion, with stops to pick flowers; but in the office your sentences should be the shortest distance possible between periods. Cut out the introduction and the peroration, and stop before you get to secondly. You've got to preach short sermons to catch sinners; and deacons won't believe they need long ones themselves. Give fools the first and women the last word. The meat's always in the middle of the sandwich. Of course, a light butter on either side of it doesn't do any harm if it's intended for a man who likes butter.
Remember, too, that it's easier to look wise than to talk wisdom. Say less than the other fellow and listen more than you talk; for when a man's listening he isn't telling on himself and he's flattering the fellow who is. Give most men a good listener and most women enough note-paper and they'll tell all they know. Money talks -- but not unless its owner has a loose tongue, and then its remarks are always offensive. Poverty talks, too, but nobody wants to hear what it has to say.
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