It’s Business and It’s Certainly Not Personal

The groundbreaking hip hop group EPMD was onto something when they named one of their albums Business Never Personal.   When it comes to confrontation, it’s important to ensure that your conversation does not become personal.  Today I am going to outline just a few important points on how to confront and why keeping it business related is important.

When it comes to confronting someone about a specific issue my number one rule is to keep it business.  What do I mean by keep it business? I mean that no matter what situation I am confronting or person that I am confronting, I am following some of the basic guidelines listed below:

  • Confront the behavior not the person.  By sticking to the actions that you have a problem with, the receiving party will more likely be open to what you have to say.  This is especially important when you are terminating someone’s employment.
  • Stay on topic-  Have you ever been confronted by someone who just rambled about every issue that happened in your office whether you had anything to do with it or not?  It’s a huge waste of time.  Outline your topic for confrontation, get in and get out.  This is the best way to ensure impact.
  • Don’t make generalizations-  We are typically really bad about this with our spouse.  Don’t start sentences with “You always…..”, unless you want someone to get on the defensive in a hurry.  As soon as you make a generalization about someone’s behavior, you have lost credibility in the discussion.
  • Don’t take it personal-  When someone defies orders or breaks protocol, leave your feelings out of it.  Their behavior is not a personal affront to you and you shouldn’t take it that way. If you are angry at someone, don’t confront them yet.  Get a handle on your emotions before you talk with that person.  When you do talk with them, don’t start a sentence with “I feel like…”.  At work, I don’t give a damn about your feelings, I care about the mission.  Your feelings don’t write checks, doing business does.  Stick to the facts, talking about your feelings makes the situation about you rather than the issue.
  • Look for solutions-  In the end, you should confront so that you can find a common ground and some solutions to the issues that are being confronted.  This is a great time to build rapport with someone and get buy in from a difficult employee.  Looking for solutions ensures that the meeting is productive and ends on a positive note.  Make sure the person you are confronting knows that you care about their success.
  • Confront in private-  If you have an issue with someone, confront them in private, not in front of the whole office.  This rule also applies to your kids, spouse etc.  Confronting people in public shows a lack of respect unless it’s a debate. There is also a tendency for leaders to confront the whole team about an issue that came up with one person.  Don’t punish your whole team for the poor performance of one person.  This has zero impact on anyone.

Good confrontation can be a powerful tool for your business.  It allows you to coach individuals to their highest levels, get maximum productivity for your business and allows you to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s going on with your team.  As you can see above, there are several reasons to keeping confrontation from becoming personal.  Those reasons can be anywhere from morale and performance to legal issues and customer service.

The one way to do this incorrectly is to make it a personal confrontation and that opens you and your business up to a lot of issues that you don’t need to deal with.  Let go of your ego in these situations and take some more advice from EPMD and keep things Strictly Business and keep the personal stuff out of it.

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