Not too long ago, I found myself dealing with a very difficult business situation. An individual was trying every approach to take advantage of our company for the benefit of his organization, and seemingly himself. During one particular exchange, I calmly stated that I felt his behavior was unethical, self-serving, and offensive.
To my surprise, this individual looked at me with a somewhat quizzical expression and said, “Brian, it's only business. It’s not personal.”
What? Did he really just say that?
Business is always personal. It constitutes approximately a third of our lives. It is part of our social circles. It is where we focus a significant amount of our time and energy. We make sacrifices for business. We move away from friends and family for business. And in the business world, our true nature is often revealed. If we are ethical, it shows. If we are a bully, it comes out. If we are ambitious, respect others, and celebrate accomplishments, we see it in the business world.
How can business not be personal?
Be wary of those who justify their actions by doing so under the so-called cloak of business. How people treat you in the business world is indicative of their core values across the board.
But is personal always business? Absolutely not.
Carefully choose those you want to conduct business with. Those we may respect or even care deeply about are often not the best partnership choice for business endeavors. Friends may be ethical, enjoyable people, but they may be poor managers of finances. Loved ones may be wonderful people to invite out for dinner or a sporting event, but they may tend to exaggerate facts. Longtime acquaintances may be dear to us, but their morals may be based on beliefs that we don’t necessarily agree upon. Any of these traits could lead to disastrous business dealings.
It is possible to keep your business life separate from your personal life. However, remember that business situations always unlock one’s true nature.
Brian T. King is the founder and owner of multiple firms encompassing design, construction, real estate, and manufacturing, and currently president of the integrated Design-Build firm A M King. Brian shares his passion for mentoring young professionals, rising managers and entrepreneurs at speaking engagements around the country, on podcasts and via his blog.