Infatuation and antipathy make very poor business partners. One cannot divorce decision-making from emotions entirely, but one must endeavor to limit the influence of the heart over the head. How many times have we all made choices in the heat of the moment that we later regret — in business or otherwise?
Take, for instance, the case of Yahoo and Microsoft. One might reasonably inquire whether Jerry Yang and the board of Yahoo have permitted typical Silicon Valley dislike of Microsoft to cloud their judgment on the proposed acquisition. Certainly, legitimate reasons may exist to spurn the current offer; indeed, a union may not ultimately make good business sense for either party. We must wait to see how it pans out, but certainly many commentators have allowed anti-Microsoft sentiment to invade their assessments of the transaction.
Love, too, can be a dangerous thing. Often, fans of Steve Jobs and Apple find themselves criticized for embracing every new product that comes out of the innovative company. From my own personal observations, I certainly see instances in which the desire for all things Apple outweighs the sound judgment that might otherwise be applied by smart individuals.
Powerful emotions need not only apply to the big boys, however. I know that in the course of my own business experience I have found a hair-trigger itch to reject or embrace deals based merely on who I might be dealing with. Close friends know that there a special few individuals that cause my blood to boil, but I must work with them from time to time despite that fact. Recognizing this weakness, I often work to have a business partner or another executive take the lead in important discussions with those people in order to help guard against knee-jerk judgment and encourage more open, clear thinking.
It isn’t easy. We’re all too human when we permit emotions to play too significant a role. And there’s certainly a role for emotion — just not in decision-making. Emotions can help motivate us. They can sober us. But we must seek to ensure that neither love nor hate guide business decision-making.