“Whatever anything else is, it oughta begin by being personal.” — Meg Ryan as Kathleen Kelley in You’ve Got Mail.
It’s a charming little romantic comedy and if you haven’t seen it, you should. You’ve Got Mail was on TV and so I was drawn in long enough to see the last quarter or so of the movie.
The line above comes in response to Tom Hanks’ character, the guy who is owner of a big box book store, whose company forced the closure of Meg Ryan’s characters little Shop Around the Corner, an independent bookstore. Hanks tells her that it was just business, that it wasn’t personal.
I’ve always found it interesting that people go out of their way to separate business and personal, as if when we show up for work, we’re no longer human beings, just employee-bots focused on business and business alone.
I would like to think the culture of social media is changing that. It is in my circles and I believe it is happening at the community level in many places. Individuals are starting to turn the corner as well, realizing that making business personal is a way to create and grow relationships — and those relationships lead to increased business.
The distinction I think people have trouble with is making interaction personal without becoming overly familiar, or introducing what should remain private. It is possible to be professional yet create interaction that focuses on customers as individuals — that, and interacting as a person, not merely a representative of a company — is what makes it personal.
What do you think? Has business become personal for you?