It’s Not Business, It’s Personal
I like you. This isn’t personal, it’s just business.” Has anyone
ever given you that line? Did you believe it? Did you feel that it was
in fact personal? Did your opinion of the person who gave you this
line change for the worse, or did you expect it because you knew this
person’s reputation wasn’t very good? If you answered yes to all
of these questions, then you understand why “It’s Not Business,
time for business people to consider the human element in dealing with
each other — the personal
effect of our actions on others, in both our professional and personal
relationships. We have to start taking full responsibility for
ourselves, for all of our actions and their effects. Why? Because our
believe you can’t use this approach in business because people will
take advantage of you, but that’s not true. It is possible—and it is necessary—to maintain personal integrity, character, and
a good reputation while doing business. And when we develop these
attributes in our personal lives, we are rewarded many times over.
can’t just tell someone that “it’s not just business,” you
have to demonstrate this through your actions. Here are some ways to
show the people you’re dealing with that you really mean it:
Remember that all of our interactions are with people:
Relationships of every kind and in every situation — even between
large corporations or countries — are conducted person-to-person.
When we recognize this fact (and pay attention to it), we’re already
on the right track.
Your reputation is based on how you treat others: If
reputation is important (and it should be), then your reputation is
personal to you. When people want to make themselves feel ok about
cheating you or just behaving improperly, that’s when they give you
the line, “I like you; it’s not personal, it’s just business.”
they don’t understand is that our actions reﬂect who we are,
and what we are. Our actions create our reputation. It’s very
personal. Ironically, that’s why so many people spin the truth—to
their actions to those around them and to the world, but especially to
themselves. Simply because our actions and behavior affect those we
are dealing with, then by deﬁnition it’s personal. The
statement, “It’s not personal, it’s just business,” is a mantra for
Behave as if it is personal; react as if it is business: In every
situation, a person can choose how to behave and how to react. Some
people choose expediency over doing the right thing—cutting corners
to save time and money, or not considering other people’s feelings.
If you want to maintain a good reputation, then you have to pay
attention to your behavior. Therefore, behave as if it is personal to
you, because your reputation is at stake.
the other hand, you cannot take everything personally. This may
seem to be a contradiction, but it really isn’t. This stance enables
you to be more objective, while at the same time reminding you to
behave with respect and integrity. Understand that the way someone
else behaves or treats you is a reflection on them, but not
necessarily a reflection on you. If you continually take everything
personally, then you will constantly be disappointed and get bogged
down in someone else’s bad behavior—in details that are
unimportant to you and to the situation you are dealing with. It’s
best to react as if it is business. Never react impulsively.
Hit the refresh button:
Prior to reacting, we need to step back and “Hit the refresh
what’s been said; review your objectives and those of the other
party. Listening is a rare skill; once learned, the people you’re
dealing with will always recognize your respect for them. Listening
also gives you a chance to be silent and not react. Take your
Be aware of how you are treating others:
Be nice—not insipid or insincere, but just straightforward, without
being harsh, mean, or aloof. Behave the way you want to be treated.
Use your sense of humor:
This may be difficult for some, especially in the heat of action, but
it can turn the tide in your favor under the most adverse
circumstances. Humor will help you break the ice. Be careful though,
because inappropriate humor can backfire.
is an example that happens daily: You’re renting property you no
longer can afford, but the lease runs another year. How can you get
the landlords to either reduce the rent, or let you out of the lease
and refund your deposit?
approach to the landlords is critical. Spin the truth and try to make
it their fault, and you’re not going to get very far. But tell them
the truth, and they have more reason to help you out. Telling the
truth keeps your integrity and reputation intact and shows respect to
the landlords. You’re not acting entitled; you’re just asking for
help. Now they must decide how to behave, how to react to your
request. In most situations like this, landlords try to help out their
tenants it they can.
you consider your reputation to be important, then the way you treat
people is fundamental. It follows that your behavior is critical in
both your business and personal life. Don’t underestimate the
far-reaching benefits of treating people with respect. Don’t
underestimate the importance of treating yourself with respect. And
certainly don’t underestimate the benefits of what good behavior
will bring to you through being treated with respect.
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