For millennia, emotions have shaped the way we respond to new situations and new people, affected our power relationships, and guided us in determining whom to trust. Evolutionary biologists confirm that we are programmed to feel and react instinctively. Then came the Enlightenment in the 18th century — and pure science was on the ascent.
The world at large perceived the rational method as the primary and only legitimate voice of authority. The result is that in many circles, instinct has often been regarded as suspect. Now, it appears that the pendulum is swinging back.
That quest for balance was inevitable. With more information comes more complexity. Business decision-makers are, of course, using data to their benefit. However, when looking to select a partner, they are ultimately less analytical and more emotional.
“The main driver of this behavior is the fact that decision-makers do not just want a partner that looks good on paper,” says Patrick O’Hara, chief strategy officer at gyro. “They want to create a partnership that can lead to a successful, long-term relationship.”
As with any relationship, aspects such as values, reputation, trust and emotion come to the forefront.
At this particular moment in the 21st-century world of commerce, the emotional component, long believed in many quarters to be worth suppressing, is having its day.
For Managers and Business Leaders
It’s all about the “why.” When you develop your company strategy, don’t forget the importance of defining your vision and your company’s relevance to other people in the world. Your product features may be exceptional, but it’s the reason you matter that attracts and retains your best customers and clients.
It’s also important to understand and accept that decisions are made based on human factors; doing so not only lends clarity to business operations and relationships but also makes you a better boss and a more insightful leader. Recognize that different people make decisions in different ways – being receptive to a full spectrum of personalities and decision-making approaches can help you better manage relationships with your employees and your customers.
Don’t underestimate the power of narrative and story to attract customers and partners. Appealing to people on a human basis is an important and successful strategy — and an effective way of impacting the bottom line.
Look to your company culture and employee “personality” to craft compelling communications. Work to amplify the authentic emotional truths about your company to attract and retain like-minded business partners. Recognize that your culture can be as compelling, or off-putting, as your product offering. When you’re going head-to-head with the competition, it can be one of the primary reasons you win or lose business.
For Those Dealing With Numbers and Data
When it comes to your data and analytics, set yourself up for success by involving knowledgeable individuals in creating a wide range of robust, up-front hypotheses based on insights and experience. Start by asking all of the right questions and know what actions to take once you have the answers.
Understand that holding a mirror to the world won’t help you change it. Make sure the questions you ask and the data you capture aren’t just about hard factors but also about humanly motivating factors: your ideas, your culture and other authentic emotional truths about your company.
This is an excerpt from the “Only Human: The Emotional Logic of Business Decisions” white paper from gyro and the FORTUNE Knowledge Group. To download the full report for free, click here.