Volume 35, Number 10, October 2000
Doc ... I Need Your Help
how do I not offend people?by Lyle R. Hill
My heart was racing my hand actually trembling. But I needed help professional help so I dialed the number and hoped that someone would answer. And I was pleased when they did.
May I speak to her? Its quite urgent.
To my complete surprise, I was immediately put through to the highly respected, world famous, no-holds-barred lady who has become the nations most talked-about and talked-to problem solver.
Who are you and whats your problem? Doctor Laura asked. And please be brief. As Im sure you know, theres so little time and so many problems.
Yes, Doctor, I know, I replied. But I too have a problem and I need your help.
Go ahead, she said in her most matter-of-fact tone.
Well, you see, I write this monthly column for a trade publication by the name of USGlass, and in those articles I kinda make fun of the people in the glass and metal industry. In particular, I poke fun at the glass and metal manufacturers all in good humor, of course.
I know who you are, Mr. Hill, and believe it or not, your articles are very good for my business. In fact, my business really picked up after that Mobile-Dent article of yours appeared earlier this year in AGRR magazine. My phone was ringing off the hook. Funny thing though, all of the calls came from the same company. But havent we talked before maybe three or so years ago? As I recall, you were quite bothered by the fact that the magazine had moved you to the back page. I really hope that youve gotten over that by now.
Well, Im not going to deny it. I did have my problems with that, but I finally realized that Im pretty lucky even to be in USGlass. After all, its the most widely-read magazine in the industry and also has the largest circulation by far. So once I took an honest, mature look at the situation, I quickly got over it and moved on. The electric shock treatments kinda helped too.
Thats good, Mr. Hill, now what can I do for you today?
OK, Doc, heres my problem. Yesterday I got a call from someone who had read one of my articles and this person told me that they were personally offended by some of the remarks I had made in that article. So I told him that he shouldnt have taken anything I wrote as personal in any way because everything I write is just for fun and not to be taken seriously. In fact, Doc, I was really surprised because nobody ever takes me seriously. Not my family, not my friends, not my co-workers. I dont get it. Where did I go wrong?
Let me guess, the popular shrink-o-therapist said. It was a metal supplier and you are actually one of his customers. Am I right?
Yes, thats right, I replied with a renewed sense of awe. But how did you know?
Quite easy, actually. You see, I have a lot of patients from the glass and metal industry and they pretty much break down into two categories. First, you have the auto glass guys who take everything much too seriously, particularly themselves. And even if something you wrote did hit home with them, they would never admit it. But the metal guys, thats a different story. Everything bothers them. They suffer from all kinds of emotional maladies. However, Mr. Hill, you have nothing to be concerned about. The person that called didnt take you seriously he was putting you on.
Are you sure, Doc? I questioned.
Quite sure, she replied. You see, you told me that you are a customer of this metal supplier that called you and that is the key. For you see, Ive never met a metal supplier yet who takes any of their customers seriously!
Lyle Hill is president of MTH Industries-Glass America of Chicago, IL.
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