"It's Just Business"

“it’s Just Business”

…said everybody who has ever worn a suit and tie. It’s one of those ubiquitous phrases that gets thrown around to reference some hidden standard of “dealings” that we have all inadvertently ascribed to. Unlike a moral compass, “Just business” seems to have a flexibility to it that can conform to any irate banter or irresponsible decision.

I said this a few months ago in all earnestness. I was frustrated with a vendor, someone who was supposed to be helping my grow my vanity and appear like an absolute stud to a client. I made a stern phone call that, in hindsight, yielded absolutely no fruit whatsoever, but rather a few thorny interactions and a headache of regret. “It’s just business! This person should know that!” I shouted into the phone as I re-verbalized the conversation to yet another party involved. The statement has been ringing in my ear ever since, like the whining screech you hear after firing a pistol without earplugs. Damaging. Violent. Disquieting everything.

If businesses are made up of people and people have emotions, how come “business” should be conducted in a black hole of emotionless facts and calculated blame-gaming? Why should we suppress ourselves so much, building up a statuesque image that is stony and impenetrable. Competent and unwavering. We are people. We do not do “unwavering” all that well for all that long.

Since the mystery of life lies in the balance, it’s important to recognize that being polite and kind to people involves a level of selflessness. We should not cry on every shoulder and we shouldn’t come into every day with an over-sensitivity that needs to be shared by everyone. I could see so many meetings turning into an overly touchy-feely mixture of tears and adulation that no work ever gets done. At some point decisions need to be made, and we need to put our hands to the task, whether we like it or not.

But somewhere in the middle there has to be room for people to be human and for business to keep running. Redefining the fist inside a velvet glove. Powerful and strong yet gentle and caring.

Ultimately, a friend helped to lead a process of healing. We vented, we’re humans too, then created space for a conversation. It was in this space that we got stuff moving. We listened, humbled ourselves, held the other accountable and then got the ball rolling again. That is business. Recognizing that a person is operating inside their own context of emotion and humanity, not condemning them as some great and unnatural hindrance to BUSINESS, but giving us all enough space to exist as we are. A bit flawed and imprecise.

Yes, there are plenty of aspects of business that are more efficient sans our emotional status. But we don’t really have a right to them, and rather than bemoan it so fiercely, we had best begin realizing that people are people, and business is just people.

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