Personal Issues May Be Business Issues

June 19, 2006
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I frequently hear owners and managers tout, "You can and you must separate your personal issues from business issues. It's called being a professional." It sounds good in theory. However, my experience with clients across industries and throughout North America demonstrates that it surely must be much easier said than done.

I find that the same issues that create conflict and difficulty in a person's personal life are the very same issues that create conflict and difficulty in their business life.

The bottom line: Some personal issues may be masquerading as business issues - yours and theirs.

In my professional experience, when it comes to business issues, it's all very personal. The following statements are common in my experience in organizations that are in the midst of difficult circumstances; sales are flat or declining, conflict with clients, conflict among team members, projects off track, and the like. All of the following people describe themselves as professionals.

Person 1: "My wife is like this, I tell her you've got to get in my face and make your case - if you don't, I'll win every time. And ... don't take everything so personally. Most of the women here won't fight back, they just walk away mad ... or ... I think some of them are intimidated. I tell them, just like I tell my wife, if you don't get in my face and fight back, I'll win every time."

Person 2: "My teenagers are like this. Why can't they just accept that my answer is ‘no' and move on? Our salespeople do the very same thing. They keep coming back with the same question, just stated a little different way - and my answer is still ‘No.' They're just like my kids!"

Person 3: "My ex-husband was like that. He would not tell me what he was thinking. I tried to tell him if he would just talk to me, tell me what he was thinking, we could work this out, but for some reason he would not do it. That's exactly the way our service manager is. I just don't get it!"

Person 4: "My wife does that: Talks in circles. Asks a dozen questions. It drives me crazy! Why can't women just get to the point?"

Many people agree there are two sides to a story and often - consciously or unconsciously - believe that theirs is, of course, the correct side. So, let's take a look at each person's perspective, their side of the story in each of these situations. And, consider what the business impact of these personal issues are. They are lurking in your company, masquerading as business issues.

EXPLORING THE FOUR BUSINESS ISSUES

Business Issue No. 1:
We all know many very intelligent, capable people with great ideas that can build a case and present it. But, they would not think of getting in anyone's face and fighting it out. Some may be intimidated but many are not. They are not intimidated. This kind of behavior strikes them as decidedly unprofessional, and even barbaric, and they will have no part in it.

One person's powerful, fast, and effective approach is another's barbaric, rushed, and unreasonable decision. If this issue is allowed to continue to infect your company, how many great employees will leave and how many profit-producing, delighted customer-producing ideas are being squelched and will never see the light of day? Too many, and it can't be good for business!

Business Issue No. 2:
One person's point of view is that this is completely beyond the realm of reason and possibility, and it's a waste of everyone's valuable time to discuss it any further. And, to another it is indeed possible to overcome this challenge with creative problem solving, and surely worthy of the effort because it will meet an important client's need.

If this issue is allowed to continue to infect your company, how many great employees will leave and how many profit-producing, delighted customer-producing solutions are being squelched and will never see the light of day? Too many, and it can't be good for business!

Business Issue No. 3:
Lord knows this issue is all too common in businesses. One person is either unwilling or unable to express what it is that they are insulted, aggravated, or angry about. And, the other person is willing and unable to engage the other in a dialog to resolve the difficulty.

If this issue is allowed to continue to infect your company, how many great employees will leave and how many profit-producing, delighted customer-producing ideas are being squelched and will never see the light of day? Too many, and it can't be good for business!

Business Issue No. 4:
From his perspective, he sees himself as a focused thinker, who wastes no time and gets directly to the point. She perceives that he has tunnel vision and, by hastily snagging what he determines to be the big points, instead misses many important connections in the all-important big picture.

If this issue is allowed to continue to infect your company, how many great employees will leave and how many profit-producing, delighted customer-producing ideas are being squelched and will never see the light of day? Too many, and it can't be good for business!

LOOK IN THE MIRROR

We each have a responsibility to bring forward the other person's best. Some people are willing, and need and want to learn the skills to bring forward their own and others' best. We all could do with regular doses of circumspection, careful to consider all related circumstances before we act, judge, or decide. And, it's very, very good for business!

In subsequent columns we will address those all-important "how to's." As always, I welcome your e-mails and look forward to hearing how you resolved your difficult situations.

Sharon Roberts is a consultant who specializes in selling to women and couples. Please send your questions or comments to Sharon@R2assoc.com. She may use them in a future column.

Publication date: 06/19/2006

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