“If he [the person you are replying to] is rude, be specially courteous. If he is muddle-headed, be specially lucid. If he is pig-headed, be patient. If he is helpful, be appreciative. If he convicts you of a mistake, acknowledge it freely and even with gratitude.”
—Sir Ernest Gowers
The sales department of Luxor Writing Instruments receives an inquiry from Mr Mukherjee about the availability of a set of Exception Solid Gold Waterman ballpoint and fountain pens. The manager, Mr Sharma, knows that his response to the inquiry is an important first step in securing the order for the highly expensive writing instruments. He carefully considers Mr Mukherjee’s letter of inquiry.