Nothing personal

When is the last time you heard the phrase “Hey, it’s nothing personal, it’s just business”?  Translation… “Hey, I know I just screwed you over but you should not be mad at me because it’s widely accepted that you don’t have to treat people as human beings in a business environment. So don’t make me feel guilty by acting insulted by my words or actions.”

I guess our ability to separate business and personal all depends on whether we want short-term or long-term results.  Every business encounter with another person is a relationship.  Could be a 5 minute relationship, could be a 5 year relationship… and how you treat that person will determine the results that you get over time.

For example, if you need a contract approved by legal before the end of the month, you can ramrod it through the legal department, ignoring regular processes and procedures, and pull rank or complain to the boss whenever you are met with resistance by the approver.  You will get your results, but you will only get them once. 

If you have an army of counselors to pick from, you can just burn through them one by one at the end of each month without having to bother with the niceties of treating them well.  HOWEVER, if you have one person that you must go through every time, I guarantee they will find a way to put your contract on the bottom of the pile and delay your results. And you know what?  They should.

I work for a large company with a charismatic CEO who calls our company a family.  I have looked in his eyes and believe that he actually means it, and his actions are consistent with his words.  I have also worked for CEOs who saw employees as nothing more than chess pieces on a giant gameboard. 

I believe companies are like families.  The sibling co-workers have their dysfunctional moments, and they sometimes don’t like what their boss parents have to say.  Regardless, they are stuck together in a situation where they will be happier if they treat each other like they want to be treated – being reasonable; saying please, thank you and sorry; offering to help and praising for good work.

Granted, being born into a family is a lifetime contract, and working at a company could only be a 6 month contract. You can also take the job and shove it whenever you want to.  However, just as there are consequences to abandoning your family, there are consequences to leaving a job with unresolved conflicts and burned bridges.

This is why I put extra effort into relationship-building in my job.  I may not be in each job for a lifetime (I got kicked out of the house twice in my life, or “laid off” as they called it) but I have gone into each new job with the attitude that people’s personal feelings are just as important as business results. 

I have my moments of gamesmanship and sometimes put on a gameface to suppress my true thoughts during negotiations or political maneuvering.  But I generally try to treat bosses and co-workers like family.  We have fun, we do chores, we agree, we disagree, we look out for each other.  In any given week, you may be required to spend more time with your work family than your real family. So why not try to be happy when you’re there?

If you derive happiness from wielding power or getting over on people, then this message is not for you.  He who has the gold may make the rules, but often ends up living with the most regrets.  If you want better long-term results, bring the real golden rule into your workplace, and treat people the way you want to be treated.  To some degree… every relationship is personal, isn’t it?

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3 Comments on “Nothing personal”

  1. Interesting, but so very true. It’s best shown in a restaraunt, I think. Saying “nothing personal” to people you often spend more time with than you do at your own home is kind of trying to evoke the impossible. When you work with someone, it’s ALWAYS personal. Glad to know people notice that.

  2. David Lynch Says:

    The movie “The Corporation” explores the notion of corporate personhood. Accepting (for a moment) that corporations are people, the film set out to determine what kind of personality that the typical corporation exhibits. The conclusion? Sociopath!

    I think legislation needs to be enacted to revoke corporate personhood (which was never officially granted in the first place!) And when corporations are found to prey on the public and the environment, their charters should be revoked.

    Our country has a long way to go before such reforms are even considered!

  3. I can remember one sociopathic (as Mr. Lynch identifies) entity that I called my employer… Dave, you remember too, eh? What a disfunctional family that was! I am referring to the hierarchy above us and around us, not YOU.

    My choice was either to become a DJ in one of the clubs – a far jump down from Entertainment Mngr – or get into restaurant manager training. I decided to jump ship. At least while in the entertainment department we had something of a shield against most direct hits… but not all.

    I believe most of us in entertainment tried to be congenial family participants, but we were just too sheepishly colored black for the average restaurateur persona.

    …glad to be out of there working on my own.

    On the other hand, I am now an independent contractor, often dealing on a one-on-one basis with these same kind of folks that I used to be employed by. In most cases finding a balance that allows for a good working relationship is possible. The major benefit here is that I can select my clients as much as they can select me for services. I don’t have to “get married” or stay that way! The other life (corporate) led to a stroke for me… my present life is so much more calm, and I love it.

    I guess the big deal is that I have more direct control over the relationships I choose to be involved with, and can adjust that if needed.

    I applaud people like YOUR top man for feeling as a manager/boss that people should be incorporated as friends and family as well as employees. It’s also a great message to our kids that these kinds of good professional relationships are possible, and the world does not have to be “dog-eat-dog” and “step on someone on the way up” kind of place.

    I mean, can’t we all just get along? LOL!

    Take care, Dave – Happy Holidays.

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