Building Bonds With Your Co-workers and Clients

Now that the election is over, we can all be happy there are

no more snipey political ads,
no more intrusive political phone calls, and;
no more annoying candidate diatribes.

We now know that derisive political behavior doesn’t work so well. Pundits say one of the boons to the Obama campaign came when he joined Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to lend support to Hurricane Sandy victims. America saw a rare non-partisan moment of humanity.

This bitter election season reminds me of one of the most helpful classes I had in business school, a discussion of competitive game theory. Being raised in an athletic family, and not fully appreciating the way the business world ran, I assumed that commercial success was all about winning. The larger the point spread, the greater the win. My instructor explained that the zero sum game, where your gain is equally offset by your opponent’s loss, won’t help you thrive in the business world. I remember being shocked that businesses shouldn’t always strive to attain the highest possible price for their good or service. My teacher demonstrated that in many cases, leaving something on the table could engender good will and bring customers back.

I often reflected on that class in later years during tense negotiations. Whether I was discussing fees with a banking client or advocating for my group’s interests within the bank, I focused on long term goals. What was good for my client and my firm was generally good for my group and consequently, for me. When I disbanded the us/them attitude, everyone won.

Now if we can just get our Democratic Senate and Republican House to think the same way, maybe we can move this country forward.