Don’t take it Personal. It’s Just Business.

“Taken” is a movie that tells the story of a
young girl who goes to Europe with a friend and is kidnapped. She’s sold into
the sex slave trade but fortunately for her, and unfortunately for the bad guys,
her father, played by Liam Neeson, is a badass ex-CIA type who is used to
solving problems in a ruthless way.

I’ll never forget Jane and I watching “Taken”
in the theater just days before we were about to put Abigail on an airplane to
see her Aunt Eva in New York City. Not the most comforting feeling to know there are
sick people out there ready to prey on the innocent and unsuspecting as you’re
about to send your 13-year-old daughter on her first solo trip!
As Neeson closes in on finding his daughter,
he finds himself at the party of a very rich businessman. The businessman has a
secret; despite being a father he is running a sex slave trade where people are
paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for young women. Neeson learns that his
daughter is at this house and is about to rid the world of this thug and just
before he does so there is a brief exchange:
Bad Guy – “Please understand it was all
business. It wasn’t personal.” [Hoping to be spared]
Liam Neeson – “It was all personal to me.”
[Shoots him]
For those of us in business, while not enduring
the kind of situation Neeson found himself in, we’ve probably heard something
similar countless times from much nicer people – “Don’t take it personal, it’s
just business.”

But the reality is this; we do take it personally.
Think about how people describe themselves so often:I’m a fireman.

I’m a salesman.
I’m a nurse.
I’m a …
Much of our being is wrapped up in what we do,
“I am.” That’s only natural because from about age 20 through 65, many people
will work upwards of 100,000 hours! We spend more of our lives at work than
with our loved ones so how can we not heavily associate our identity with what
we do? If that’s the case then it’s almost impossible not to take it personally.
So how do we avoid taking it personally? By
building relationships that are so strong they can trump almost all other
reasons to do business with us. Jeffrey Gitomer, a well-known author and sales
trainer puts it this way: “All things being equal, people want to do business
with their friends. All things being not so equal, people still want to do
business with their friends.”
Gitomer’s philosophy goes to what Robert
Cialdini calls the liking principle. This principle of influence reminds us that
people prefer to say, “Yes” to those they know and like. It’s a very powerful
tool when it comes to influence.
I’m a realist and know friendship won’t trump
everything. There’s a certain price for which people will switch. How big that
difference is depends on a lot. However, I bet many of you reading this can
think of times you’ve chosen to do business with someone despite their pricing
being higher because of the friendship you have.
Here’s some proof in case you’re a skeptic. A
study was done with students from Stanford University and Northwestern. The
students were given the task of negotiating a deal. Half of the students were
told to “keep it strictly business” while the other half were encouraged to get
to know their negotiating partner; exchange pictures, emails, etc.
Did getting personal make a difference? It
most certainly did! Five times more “strictly business” students got deadlocked
in their negotiations as compared to the “get to know your partner group.” That’s
right, five times more (30% vs. 6%). Would it be beneficial for your business
if you could seal the deal significantly more than you’re currently
doing…without having to spend more money? All it takes is a bit of effort and
conversation to do these two things:
  1. Take time to find similarities with people you
    do business with. Talking about what you have in common is an easy way to bond
    with another person.
  2. Look for things about the other person you can
    genuinely compliment and then compliment them. They’ll feel good about you and
    you’ll convince yourself they’re a pretty good person in the process.
Fortunately we don’t have to try solving our
business problems like Liam Neeson had to. Give these two simple ideas a try
and you’ll build better relationships — the kind that will make, “Don’t take
it personal, it’s just business,” a thing of the past.

Brian, CMCT®
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.

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