Friday, 8 August 2008

How business is like dating

In the World of dating I am the last to get picked for the team. My sister is the opposite. Her hair is lustrous like the Golden Fleece and her presence has the same effect on men as chumming the water has on sharks. Where managing relationships in business is like dating I have learnt everything I know from her as none of it comes naturally to me.

When we have something the other people want they respond to my emails on the same day, point by point. They get things in the post on the same day that I ask for them and they tell me how much their child/wife/boss/swimming teacher loved our product. How friendly they seem: how personable.

When the other people have what they need they stop replying to my email. When I phone I get voicemail or a secretary. The secretary recognises my voice from when I called yesterday and the day before. On Monday she was sympathetic, on Tuesday she was embarrassed and today she is irritated. She thinks that my persistence is impertinent; she reveres her boss and thinks that I am pestering him when he is important and busy. 'He will be in touch if he wants to take things further' she says. This is the business version of 'He's just not that into you.'

In order to 'take things further' in circumstances like this one needs to practice the advanced Marshall art of 'Come here, go away' One has to know when to respond and when not to. My sister is a black belt. I still make elementary mistakes. If someone doesn't take my call I want to call again and again and again until I get the answer I want. I become a monkey with a button that can't stop pressing it even though he is electrocuting himself. When they continue to ignore me I am Margaret Thatcher in a headscarf driving a Sherman tank towards them. 'OBEY ME' she glares. This method does not work.

In real life Abi says that i am not allowed to phone a guy after 3 dates and say 'Are you my boyfriend? Do you think that you want to settle down with me?' and in business the guidelines are the same. I have to act cheerful and easy going even when they keep me waiting or are rude or annoying. This guy I liked last summer organised for me to go and see a psychic as a treat (as you do). I felt sure that in doing so he was making a pass at me. The psychic said that I was part alien and that I had a large aerial sticking out of my head. I didn't want to make her feel like she wasn't good at her job so I thanked her and told her that everything she said to me made perfect sense and that she did indeed have strong psychic powers. I asked her about my not-boyfriend who had organised for me to see her, perhaps she could psychically sense whether we had a future together? She looked at me with a mixture of embarrassment and pity and the aerial on my head picked up the psychic message that she was sending...'He will be in touch if he wants to take things further.'

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