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The coward s way out, but the most efficient use of time

I ve had a turbulent last 18 months. What started as a friendly corporate takeover dissolved rapidly into a clash of business cultures and lack of trust. An ensuing MBO turned to dust for largely the same reasons. Then came the inevitable fractious break-up and squabbling over clients.

It s just businessOne phrase kept cropping up throughout the whole process: It s not personal it s just business.

I ve since learned that when people drag that one out as a reason for their actions, you know you re in trouble. It s a phrase that can be used to justify any sort of behaviour that someone sees as being in his or her own economic interest. What surprises me, though, is how it seems to be so widely accepted as a valid reason for commercialdecision-making.

You re fired!A business needs to make money in order to survive, and this involves taking tough decisions that may well have a negative impact on someone.

The classic example is making people redundant (or firing them as it s called here in Denmark, where there is no linguistic differentiation between losing your job for economic reasons as opposed to performance), but it could also include any tough negotiation with your clients or staff.

But can a decision be taken that involves relationships between people that is not personal?

Kidding yourselfI would argue that it cannot. You might make a decision that you feel is objectively justified on economic grounds but if you claim that this decision is not personal, you are kidding yourself.

All such decisions are personal, both for the individual you are delivering the decision to, but also (and vitally) for yourself.

Ghost of decisions pastAs someone who s made more difficult decisions than I care to remember, I can personally attest to the fact that the decisions you make, good or bad, come back to get you be it in the way others treat you, or the personal psychological ramifications.

That doesn t mean that difficult decisions should be shied away from, but it does mean that decisions should be taken mindfully, in full awareness of the motivation behind them and the likely consequences of your actions. And whether you like it or not, it will always be intensely personal.

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