Small Business Ru!e of the Month

Small Business Ru!e of the Month

01.2.2019 All The World's Problems Can Be Solved By Talking

There was a time very early in my business career that I asked a debt collector to follow up an amount that a woman had outstanding with us. The reaction I received was interesting, to say the least. I was not aware of it at the time, but this woman was married to a recently retired representative sportsperson—one that I was a huge fan of.

I found this information out because no sooner had the debt collector sent his first letter than this particular gentleman was in my shop demanding to know who had sent this letter to his wife. He was telling everyone (in no uncertain terms) that he wanted to grab that person and “rip off their head and aggressively place excrement down their throat.”

You can imagine my reaction when I walked out onto the sales floor and with a feeble voice squeaked, “I authorised that letter to be sent” and then braced myself for the resultant onslaught.

Maybe the client realised that he was coming on a bit strong, or maybe it was because I decided to carry a handbag with me to greet him, but he didn’t do what he had threatened to do. What happened was we talked.

First, I had to try to get him from “below the line” to “above the line” so that we could talk with reason. I had to listen, and then I had to explain the steps we had already gone through to try to have the bill paid. Then I had to explain that as a new business, every cent mattered to our cash flow, and lastly I had to apologise for embarrassing him with a debt collector letter.

In the end, we solved the problem, the bill was paid, and I received an autograph from one of my favourite players—all because a problem was talked through. If I had come out and been aggressive or just quoted the law and stood on my correct legal grounds, I would probably still be eating my meat through a straw. Talking was the only solution to this problem, and despite the fact that solicitors would like you to believe otherwise, talking is the best solution to all problems. Many times I have seen potentially huge problems with employees, vendors and clients solved by simply talking.