Make The Deal: A Case Study on Decision-Making

Making a good deal requires understanding what you will gain and what you must lose. Deal-making is almost as old as time. Part of what makes some people better deal-makers than others, is their ability to evaluate a deal beyond their emotions. Emotions are essential in making a deal; often emotions can signal red flags and if you have a high EQ they can help you assess situations quickly. However, overt and excessive emotional responses can impede good decision making and hence hinder the “deal.”

On a recent trip to West Africa I frequently heard Africans complaining about the poor trade deals popular “leaders” made in regard to resources and land on the continent. Everyone told me that leaders took bribes (or dash), while seeking dash themselves! Such international deals often were made at the expense of the nation and I marveled that the negotiating leader overlooked his own opportunity for greater gain had he negotiated a better deal. Could it be emotion?

Probably one of the most courageous things you can do in work or business is to remove excessive emotion from the equation. The ability to look logically and unaffectedly at the options and make the best decision at hand is a true strength. Could a scarcity mindset be hindering West Africa’s ability to make good trade decision and ultimately to progress? According to psychologist, a scarcity mentality is when an individual is terrified that there isn’t enough for everyone.

In business and life, it has been a great myth that women are more emotional than men. Therefore we often ascribe such lapses in male-dominated business fields to other factors. But the truth is that both sexes are emotional and make poor, sometimes terrible decisions based on emotion. The scarcity mentality evokes a kind of fear; therefore, the ability to engage in long-term and critical-thinking, coupled with emotional restraint is absolutely necessary.

As an example, African states have come under fire for their $60 Billion engagement with China’s Belt and Road Initiative in what some have called a debt trap. But a clear unemotional, evaluation would reveal the pros and cons of the deal. While many criticize China and African states, they often overlook the nearly $300 billion Africa owes to the World Bank/IMF. The fact is that Sino-African partnerships are making it possible for Africa to have a shot at taking part in the World economy. This was unthinkable even 30 years ago.

Clear, unemotional thinking is critical and Africa illustrates how important that quality is in trade negotiations. Perhaps what is most disturbing about the debt trap concept, is the implication that African cannot make its own decisions in bilateral agreements. Decision-making is the hallmark of leadership and ultimately good deal-making.

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