The following post originally appeared on Forbes | April 15, 2015
Rational adjective ra·tio·nal \ˈrash-nəl, ˈra-shə-nəl\ 1a. based on facts or reason and not on emotions or feelings.
It is difficult to refute that sound business decisions require a rational approach: strategy, analysis, a long-term orientation, and logic, among other things. Yet, the last two decades of behavioral, social, and cognitive psychological research have systematically debunked the assumption of purely rational decision-making, and in the process, have given us a glimpse of the ghosts that actually turn the decision making machine.
There is perhaps no other aspect of life that is more susceptible to irrational decision-making than matters of love. Rare is the bird that looks back on a timeline that is free of poor courting decisions—evolutionary psychologists have much to say about this. But what about the 1%? Those who have made a very successful run at business by exercising sound judgment? Certainly rationality prevails for them, even in matters of the heart.
Today we hear from Patti Stanger, Bravo TV’s The Millionaire Matchmaker, and founder of Millionaire’s Club. Acting as a marriage catalyst for millionaires, Stanger finds herself, on a daily basis, directing traffic for her clients at the crossroads of rational and irrational decision making. And boasting a 99% success rate through her matchmaking club, she has an interesting and valuable perspective on how best to juggle these often conflicting states. See our exchange below:
Parnell: The gift of persuasion is an incredibly powerful tool in business. It might be said that no deal gets done without an element of persuasion, first; certainly not a romantic relationship. For a woman looking to persuade a man, what are some key points to bear in mind?
Stanger: A woman is most potent when she is still and alluring. Since communication is 90% non-verbal, she needs to smell good, look good, and smile.
Parnell: How about a man looking to persuade a woman?
Stanger: Pursue, pursue, pursue! The problem with today’s men is they are no longer interested in the chase as dating online, social media, and texting have made it too easy for them. There are too many choices, so a man stands out from the pack by hunting down his woman. That is when women pay attention.
On The Effects Of Physical Attractiveness
Parnell: I don’t know if you are well read on evolutionary psychology, but I am a huge believer of the existence of mating preferences and their influence on, well, just about everything—business included. What are some ways that you’ve seen mating preferences—physical attractiveness, for instance—play a role in business transactions?
Stanger: I know the studies show that symmetry is everything, and that the hip to waist ratio lead men to be believe that those women in “balance” are better breeders, but I tend to always disagree, as I often see men who are better looking than their mates. They—men—are often looking for a compatibility factor of friendship. When we’ve done studies in my company we’ve found that the glue in the relationship is not always the sex, it is the companionship, laughter, and doing common interests together.
Parnell: Have you seen instances where poor decisions were made as a direct result of another party’s attractiveness?
Yes, men and women do it all the time. They go for chemistry and they don’t look under the hood of the car. This is a common occurrence in any matchmaking service where people judge a book by its cover and then wonder why the personality doesn’t match the looks. You’ll also hear this from most marriages: “I thought I was getting this sweet beautiful woman, or handsome loving man, only to end up with the devil.”
On Machiavelli’s Consideration Of Love And Fear
Parnell: Referencing Machiavelli’s “of cruelty and clemency,” if you had to make a choice, would you rather be feared or loved?
Stanger: Loved, definitely, as love conquers all! And fears leads to betrayal.
Parnell: Can you give me an example where you’ve seen fear result in betrayal?
Stanger: It is human nature to bite the hand that feeds you; a little crumb and they want more. So often times employers, even partners, create monsters out of their children and their employees by giving too much. Then when they decided enough is enough and try to stop, that person turns into an ungrateful lunatic and seeks revenge. The problem is most people do not have boundaries set-up, and often time they allow people to cross any that are there without putting their foot down in time.
On Her Own Fears
Parnell: You are a pretty fearless figure. We all have our kryptonite, though. What used to keep you up at night as a young professional? What keeps you up at night now?
Stanger: What used to keep me up at night is that the world judged me because I wasn’t married, and that’s a lot of stress to take on when I’m really good at my job. My life is very different than most people see on television, and I am a workaholic, which is really my joy. However, finding love is very hard for me; that is why I became a matchmaker. In the end, it is always about soul mates for me.
Parnell: This, to me, sounds like that challenging intersection of rational and irrational, or instinctual, thinking—the heart and the mind at odds. I’m sure you’ve heard this question, or thought of this any number of times before, but if you were your own client, what would be the advice you’d give yourself?
Stanger: If I were my own client, I would tell myself there is no competition in the world, and some people are late bloomers who have different lessons to learn. The world is not your judge, only you are.
On Motivation And Controlling Her Fears
Parnell: What is your internal dialogue when you have to face a fear? How do you prepare yourself? Motivate yourself?
Stanger: I am a believer of law of attraction, and I meditate using my website attractingasoulmate, which teaches me to breath. And I pray a lot. I’m also a firm believer of subliminals, which have music embedded with suggestion. Also, I visualize white light all over my body and send love to those who are blocking me, which seems to calm me down a lot.
On Business People She Admires
Parnell: Who are one or two business people that you revere? What traits do they have that you aspire to?
Stanger: Oprah Winfrey, as nobody is better at law of attraction than she is. I love that she is a woman who listens to the beat of her own drum. Also, as a young girl I really admired Sherry Lansing. I wanted to be head of a studio, like her. And I really admire how far she has come.
On Advice To Young Women
Parnell: I have a four year old daughter that I would love to see succeed in whatever endeavor she ultimately sets her mind on. If there were lessons that you’d want me to teach her, what would they be?
Stanger: Don’t listen to anyone else but your own inner-voice; know that the universe is guiding you; and do your homework, because when you are prepared, that is when the opportunities arise.