Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"It's Just Business" Is A Horrible Term and What To Do If You Hear It.

"It's just business" is a term that I hate. It means "I've done something bad and I'm not sorry because it's related to my career advancement". It means that the regular rules of interaction that you learned back in kindergarten are not applying right now. You will be able to tell because the term "it was just business" will come up to excuse whatever it was. Think about it, have you ever heard of something good happening and it being explained by saying "well, that's just business"?
Think about Kindergarten for a moment. Little kids dislike copycats, tattlers, and rule breakers without being taught. At a very young age, they know that there is a certain way to conduct oneself and as we get older, our friend circles reinforce that behavior.
The business world can sometimes seem like an alternate universe where anything goes making things hard when you are in your first few jobs because it's like watching your teacher cut in the lunch line. What is unnatural in Kindergarten can be acceptable at work. Granted, there are awesome bosses out there and amazing companies who are trying to change things but there are always going to be those companies and individuals that want to take advantage of the fact that you can say "it's just business". If you are working at or deal with these kinds of companies you should:

1) Listen more than you talk. There is no benefit to showing your whole game plan or ideas unless you really, really trust the person you are talking to.
2) Trust Slowly. Take your time getting to know new team members and bosses.
3) Know Your Industry. It's not against any rules to know what jobs are out there and how much they pay. It's not cheating on your company to keep a good knowledge of openings and your resume updated.
4) Fend for Yourself. No one will look out for the advancement of your career if you don't. Ask for raises and better titles - often if you must.

Just don't say "it's just business" while you do it.


Blogger abbylohk said...

I never even thought of the term, but your absolutely right!

September 29, 2009 at 6:46 PM  
Blogger Royce said...

I have heard this and I generally agree with you. However, I also sometimes hear the other version of this term - "It's not personal."

I like it's not personal and think it's a good thing to keep in mind with business. If someone is screwing you, personally, one-on-one because of work politics or drama or something, then it's not true. But when you're negotiating a deal and it's not working out, or you're discussing a project schedule with a vendor, etc., I find it useful to remember it's not personal.

October 1, 2009 at 12:43 PM  

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