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? No, because although it’s part of conducting business, people, including you and me, take everything personally.
Maybe it’s not personal 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 yourself when you’ve got to deliver a particularly difficult message. But it’s disingenuous, 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 and compassion.
We’re people, we’re emotional, we take things personally. Some things you need to say will hurt the recipient, whether they’re deserved or not. Be careful, be sensitive, but don’t tiptoe around the issue and confuse them; be direct, honest, and compassionate. It’s personal to them because they take everything personally. Remember, even when it’s business, it’s personal.