BiscuitMany of us would be tempted to think that business leaders are rational, intelligent and swayed by good reason and their own business interests.

But apparently not. A survey of UK businesses has revealed the secret to winning clients and clinching deals.

Is it good service? No

Is it a strong vision? No

Is it monetary persuasion? Alas, no.

The answer is much simpler than that.

4 out of 5 UK businesses believe that the type of biscuits they serve to potential clients and business partners is what makes a deal or causes it to, umm, crumble.

Deal makers include: chocolate digestives, custard creams, hob nobs, Jammie Dodgers, and short bread. Be prepared to have the client sign on the dotted line if you serve up any of these tasty morsels with a cup of tea or coffee.

However, you’ll be losing out in your annual bonus if you serve cheap crumbly biscuits, and if a customers sees you dunk your biscuits into your tea or coffee then the deal has gone and you’ll be sent to personnel for the rest of your working life. Take more than two biscuits from a communal plate and you’re fired. Like it or not, that’s the way to cookie crumbles.

Despite how amusing this story is I find it immensely frustrating that business deals could be made or broken on the basis of a biscuit. And it raises a question as to how many of our actions each day are rational and intelligent rather than manipulated. In Britain we have a guy called Derren Brown who, using little other than the power of suggestion, can make people behave in remarkable, and highly predictable, ways – showing that perhaps many of us aren’t the rational and free agents we think we are. And perhaps it’s a wake up call for us to use our brain and rational sense, without which we’ll be swept along on a wave of manipulative emotion.

The funny thing is when I first met the woman who is now my wife we were at a friends house. She was holding a plate and the first thing she ever said to me was “fancy a biscuit?”

Mmmm…I wonder….