I’m fascinated by how brands can make us feel. The intensity of that feeling, what drives it and how long it can last. The infamous ones in my experience include IKEA. Nothing makes my blood curdle more than the indignity of being herded around the labyrinth of their Wembley store, before you land in the cattle market of the queuing system. Great for your step count, bad for your wallet as you fail to resist the, literally thousands of, essentials you never knew you needed. RYANAIR is another one, the shiver that runs through me as I attempt to log in, recover a password on their seemingly impenetrable website to buy the only flight to Santander and then get fleeced for every tiny additional item (like luggage for example) ages me every time I break the resolution to never do it again.
The most amusing (with hindsight) example of getting caught up in a process inflicted on me was with the Civil Aviation Authority. When applying for a pilot’s license renewal, I was reminded of the new requirement to prove my language proficiency. “Are you seriously asking me to get a certificate that demonstrates my proficiency of the English language?” I asked incredulously. “Oh yes,” she said, towards the end of our 15-minute conversation (in English). “You can’t get your license without it.” In the recurring debate about whether everything is negotiable, I found the proverbial brick wall.
My latest misery has come from the insurance industry who I was forced to encounter following a very fruitful (from the bad guys' point of view) burglary of my home on, would you believe it? Christmas Day! What ESURE managed to do was take the pain of the losses (both material and sentimental) away by making the process of claiming so Herculean in effort and complexity I nearly gave up. All through poor communication and process.
When you reflect on my rants above, in the calm of a lazy Sunday afternoon as I write this blog, I reluctantly feel obliged to consider the intentions of these brands. Do our Swedish furniture designer friends mean to make our lives a misery? Of course not, they design (and I would say build, but we have to do that) beautiful homewares for irresistibly low prices. Does Ryanair really hate me? No, as it turns out they offer the highest level of punctuality of ANY airline in Europe and have done for many years. The flight to Santander only costs £27 for goodness sake – it seems a little churlish to complain about paying the same again for a bag?
In our negotiations our emotions, more often than not, cloud our perspective of the other side. We create barriers and defensive behaviour that is designed to obstruct the other side or even worse punish them. We lose sight of our objectives and stick rigidly to our principals. And yet the trained negotiator will take a more objective view of a situation, they will think about what the other side’s priorities are and navigate their way through the process.
I did eventually get the new pilot’s license – but only after countless forms to complete and phone calls (in English) as well as an official language proficiency assessment.
And then the burglars nicked it. Ho hum.