From doormat to matador

That expression comes from Beau Willimon, one of the geniuses behind House of cards (yes, I confess I am a big fan, and this one is in Season 2, episode 3), and it stroke a chord while negotiating with a service supplier recently. The service at stake certainly had no connection into eliminating people, literally. There was no bullfight involved either, only some word statements contest as to who had the truest one over the other. This is where and when the conversation turned baffling. I can understand a service supplier wanting to prove s/he has the capability, and capacity, to handle a project, as proven through past corporate experiences.

Matador (Chema Concellon)

Matador © Chema Concellon

However, my mind starts flinching when that same service provider insinuates indirect accusations of being disloyal and deceptive because I have chosen a competitor to work with. The pushover or doormat definition has always been foreign to my way of conducting negotiations, with potential suppliers, or anyone, for that matter. I have dealt with very strong sales people and made a point of remaining courteous and respectful at all times, even when some discussions were stern and felt somewhat intimidating. I know it is a tactic, and, it assuredly led me to show my matador side, whipping back, the mama bear way.

Consorting with a service provider, ideally, goes a longer way than a simple project… until some conditions change, and one party decides to take things for granted: that is when the relationship can get questioned. Sure, I want to be pleasant with my counterparts: just not down to be a doormat some will wipe their feet on, thank you. Yes, this is business: nothing personal, until it feels like it is. If and when the emotions take over, better taking a step back and avoiding the possible erosion of the relationship. Talking things out is usually a good thing. Usually. When all stakeholders are willing to listen to the others, with shifting ideas and divergent perspectives, the mediation has a chance to pass and benefit the majority.

I am neither Frank Underwood, nor intend to take him as a fictitious mentor: I leave ruthlessness aside. Casualties can be avoided, scratches may be deflected. Making me feel guilty for sticking to my decision, which does not match one’s expectations, is unlikely the most judicious way to make me change my mind. I know I am taking a (calculated) risk betting on the competition. This service provider took another one with his sales method, which relatively turned me off and substantially justified and comforted my decision. I leave the door open to a future cooperation: this may sound polite and careful. I see it as curious about business opportunities, knowing everything is negotiable.