The professional services world can feel oppressively impersonal at times. Throughout the constant flurry of organising the minutiae of bids and contracts, and with a constant eye on margins, there can be a temptation to think of ourselves as acting like cogs in a clockwork process that moves along procedurally with little regard for the more humanistic needs and concerns that largely govern how positive outcomes are achieved in business.
We can often forget that people like doing business with people. And significantly, people like working with people like themselves. When acting as a broker or intermediary, a strong sense of emotional intelligence is crucial. Often, the significant conversations between FM managers and contractors or associates can be so caught up on the size of the margin or the length of the contract that less immediate concerns, that are still important to both parties, are continuously side-lined or not addressed at all.
Effective brokers are able to tease out and address these issues to reach a middle ground solution that is more amenable to both sides but doing so requires more interaction with the opposite party on a human level. Workplace research consistently shows that more openness and transparency in business negotiations leads to more equitable outcomes, but also shows that such as outcomes are more likely to be achieved when a negotiating culture is adopted which prioritises the needs of parties before the I-dotting and T-crossing of the bottom line.
The danger of being “too corporate” in a negotiation is that you run the risk of never revealing or addressing issues that could hinder the long-term success of the partnership. Successful brokering and mediation should avoid treating individuals merely as links in the procedural chain of a business transaction. A more patient, democratic approach is far more likely to reap long-term rewards.