The boardroom is not for the faint hearted; one can easily fall prey to the menacing, frosty setting. In fact the board room is designed to give a very particular kind of impression, an impression reinforced by the excessively large mahogany table, the leather upholstery on the wide cushioned chairs, the domineering high tech screen positioned perfectly at a focal point and other similar superficial finishes. The meticulous layout of the space together with the sinister choice of finishes that seem to mask the fact that the boardroom is simply a room can cause a rapid surge of unwelcome nerves.
Those brave enough to hold their nerve and keep their bearing in this environment will attest to the magnitude of the next unavoidable obstacle. An obstacle created only by the wit and cheap trickery of cunning opponents, who with time learn to conform to the two faced, truth masking illusion that stems from the environment. One has to be alert to see through the immaculate clean pressed suits and expensive thick knot ties, meant to bestow undue importance. More importantly one has to decipher and stay unmoved by flashy jargon and eloquent business lingo, meant to hide from and confuse others by saying plenty while avoiding saying anything of substance.
If one is able to avoid succumbing to the pressure and patronizing innuendo of master boardroom predators, whose only goal is to devour. The final test and perhaps the most important required for success in the boardroom, is the ability to win negotiations. The word negotiate is defined as ‘try to reach an agreement or compromise by discussion with others’. If negotiation is about compromise, how does one win? This is a simple concept, in any negotiation there are always two opposing parties. Winning a negotiation is when one party is able to give the opposing party as much of what they seek while only forgoing as little of their own desired outcome as possible.
Ever so often in life we all find ourselves in sporadic boardroom situations, requiring us to suppress nerves, tune our deciphering sensibilities, see through trickery and turn into master negotiators. The most notable of these situations is the precarious, emotion filled stage of engagement. Those who have fallen victim to the humiliation of tasting the delight of a marriage proposal and allowed their joy to spur blatant public parading of the moment, only to have their ‘prince charming’ sever their hearts into pieces, know too well the importance of closing the deal.
Who can judge these victims for immersing themselves in the ecstasy of love and savouring the magical world of midnight spooning and frequent kisses on the cheek? How would they ever suspect or have the attentiveness required to detect the subtle unannounced negotiation taking place in the midst of such pleasure? For one only wakes up to the fact, when the opponent (in this case ‘prince charming’) has conquered and is in possession of all that is meaningful in the negotiation.
Prince charming is more cunning than any boardroom wolf; he surrounds the engagement with welcoming warmth. He rarely has to resort to material things to dupe his victims; his deceptive words are his sword. He uses his crafty words to fool his opponent into thinking yielding to his self gratifying requests is justified by declarations of his undying love. In exchange for a minute amount of affection, he swiftly persuades his opponent to compromise beyond acceptable limits. He merely has to utter ‘it feels so right’ and all restraint is undone.
The only clue to the lost negotiation for the naive counter part is often the frustrating state of limbo, where ‘prince charming’ no longer exhibits the enthusiasm of months gone by. No sense of urgency to move forward drives his actions. Only remnants of the passion experienced in earlier times remain. It is only in this low, powerless moment that one is faced with the horror of their failure to recognise the boardroom moment and close the deal.