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Even When It’s Business, It’s Personal!

People say it all the time—“It’s not personal, it’s business.” Really? Let’s think about it. Let’s pretend you have to fire me. And during the meeting, you tell me: “It’s not personal, it’s business.” Do I believe you? I don’t think so.

Maybe it’s not for you, if you’re firing me. But, if I’m being fired, it’s very personal, if only to me. (It would be to you if I were firing you.) Saying “it’s not personal” is one way to try to take the heat off us when we’ve got to deliver a particularly difficult message. But it doesn’t work and it sure lacks empathy.

I’m not even saying I didn’t deserve to be fired; that’s not the point. The point is—it’s very personal. And I take it as such. Why? One, because I’m human and, like all humans, I take everything personally. Two, because my family may be in jeopardy (I’m not necessarily blaming you). Three, because of the insensitive way you’ve addressed it. Something this important must be expressed with sensitivity, even compassion.

We’re people, we’re emotional, we take things personally. And some things we need to say might hurt the recipient, whether they’re deserved or undeserved. We all need to remember this. Be careful and compassionate. It’s personal to them because they take everything personally.

Even when it’s business, it’s personal.

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