This Ain’t Personal

graphic of man getting booted out a door
Clean my boot on the way out, would you?

Now Barry, don’t take this the wrong way because it’s not personal.

My mind swooned and a wicked reality yanked my wobbly life force free of its moorings as those familiar words ram jammed my possibility pipe.

THIS…IS…NOT…PERSONAL. But just the same you are fired, Fired, FIRED!

Just a little white line is all.

Okay, two little white lines, so what?

This Plastic Bag IS a Toy

In April 2008 I was the business manager of a successful multi-million dollar manufacturing company and was excited about completing our second fiscal year with an 800% increase in revenue and three hundred thousand dollar profit. The company founders, me included, were finally beginning to feel a sense of redemption about our choices and it appeared like our struggling and risk taking were about to to pay off.

I wasn’t surprised when one warm and sunny mid-month day our company’s CEO invited me to a private meeting. In only 24  months we had become the darlings of our industry in western Canada and had enjoyed the accolades of several published articles identifying us as shakers and movers to be watched.

Yep, it was time for some well deserved back patting and high fives all around!

Horrified could not begin to describe how I felt when my dancing eyes affix themselves involuntarily to the CEO’s firm gaze as we opened our congratulatory beer. With a cautious half smirk he let these terrifying words tumble unconsciously from his company mouth.

“Now Barry” he drew out warily, pausing for the movie-land effect he was attempting to emulate, ” I don’t want you to take this personally…”

It didn’t really matter what was dribbling from his pie hole after “Don’t take this personal” because I knew it had to be something terrible for dude to want to shove me out of its path.

Don’t take this personal … for crying out loud!

Its like saying to someone: “You and I both know that the human shell whom I am addressing at this moment cannot withstand the pummeling of this mean mannered message. Kindly relay the following concept to your essence at some later date so I don’t have to witness your personage getting all emotional and stuff.”

Schizophrenia 101

What a load of crap that corporate concept of dividing people into parts is!

Yes, its true that we have to employ many complementary personalities to function properly – dad, sister, son, grandmother – but they’re all faces of the same congruent person who has the ability to express themselves from an alternate world view.

But let me tell you, kick one personality in the teeth and you’re scrapping with ALL personalities! The admonition to “not take life circumstances” personally is a bizarre one. How can I NOT take it personally? This is the real me, after all, not some stand in I hire to represent me in times of dire consequence.

In just over two hundred years the business world has managed to relegate human beings to objects to be manipulated toward the accomplishment of corporate goals and somewhere along the way we brushed aside the true value of the engaged participation of people. This single act of callousness has diminished everything we have accomplished through the powerful process called enterprise.

Humanize Me PLEASE

Its pure craziness to think that people aren’t personally affected by major decisions like loss of employment, ouster from a club or break down of a personal relationship.

graphic depicting two slaves pulling a chariot
Don’t take this personal. HEEYAA!

And to the degree that folks are affected, that is the distance I must go to alleviate the pain or suffering that tough choices demand. Business is such that one cannot avoid making those decisions which are going to negatively affect some people but they must be faced head on, with transparency, disclosure and empathy. The entire concept that under certain circumstances we can treat people as mere things is lunacy.

Today I take great care to involve people in those decisions which invariably could upset them and the delicate balance of their lives. And while its much more expedient just to run roughshod over the desires and fears of folks, this kind of thinking only serves to build walls where bridges should be and before we know it we’re all living in our own little box.

Nope, you’ll never catch me asking anyone to not take things personally.

I want folks to know I’m thinking about them.

That especially applies to you.

Thanks, friend.

Barry out.

4 Responses to “This Ain’t Personal”

  1. Hi Barry…Great post.
    I loved this quote:
    “Business is such that one cannot avoid making those decisions which are going to negatively affect some people but they must be faced head on, with transparency, disclosure and empathy.”

    I had a friend that recently lost her job and her boss (who lived in a different county) never even phoned her to tell her she was no longer working for them (she had been out for the month of July…it is a seasonal product) when season started. Instead, she went behind her back and hired someone else and the only way this person found out was when she went to the place she used to work and found her replacement!
    I have no respect for that boss whatsoever…she showed her true colors. But, as I always say…
    “what goes around, comes around”….:)
    Interesting blog…I’ll be back.
    Kathy

    [Reply]

    Barry Williams Reply:

    Thanks Kathy. I find it interesting that people think that “it’s just business” allows them to mistreat anyone or anything. As for Karma, apparently it’s not coming around fast enough for some folks because more of them are quitting with gunfire instead of written notices.

    Our mistreatment of each other in corporate settings is reaching epidemic proportions and hopefully enough of us become aware of it to ensure this is the top of the greed / stupidity cycle.

    Thanks again for your time, Kathy. Talk to you again soon.

    Barry

    [Reply]

  2. This is an amazing site

    [Reply]

    Barry Williams Reply:

    You’re not kidding.

    [Reply]

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