“It’s not personal, it’s just business.” is used in many movies, the Godfather for one. I have heard it used a few times throughout my own business life as well. Used to justify an action someone is taking that’s likely to have a negative effect on others. Using it gives your conscience an easy out to an ethically difficult decision.
Business also gets personal when you meet people through your work affairs that you would not meet in your personal affairs, and then you hear unwelcome news about that person, company, etc.
I have been following the horrendous news of Russia’s war on Ukraine. It got more personal when my Facebook memories emphasized the fact that I have recently met a group of Ukrainians. Three years ago, there was a Ukrainian delegation of Social Workers touring the US and they had stopped here in Winona. They were visiting Winona O.R.C. and the Executive Director Heidi Smith had invited me to speak to the delegation. Through our participation on the local Workforce Development Board, she knew I try to employ people with developmental disabilities and wanted to highlight that many of us in manufacturing participate in the practice. They were very gracious and kind, asking a lot of questions and afterward presented me with some traditional Ukrainian folk-art gifts. I put them on my wall that day, and three years later I have been looking at them as news from Ukraine comes in.
The motanka doll is one of the most ancient handmade items in Ukrainian household. Initially fashioned as a domestic symbol of fertility and household guardians, these dolls played a significant role in the everyday life of Ukrainians in the old days. While still in use today, the tradition has become more concerned with style and décor than anything ritualistic.*
The FB memory just drove home how nice they had been and now who knows how they are doing. I went looking and found one of the business cards they had given me. I emailed Svitlana to check up on her, I have yet to receive a reply. I hope she and the others have a motanka doll close by.
So, most of the time business IS personal. With people you meet on occasion, and people you work with every day. Something to keep in mind as you go about your day-to-day work life. If you are using it to give your conscience an easy out to an ethically difficult decision, perhaps you should revisit that decision.
*The main peculiarity of the doll is that it should be faceless, often with cross on head. It used to be made of any pieces of fabric that could be found at home. Craftsmen draw no faces (no eyes, nose, mouth) to let small children develop their imagination and think of the doll`s emotions while playing with the doll. According to the ancient popular beliefs, the face inspired a soul in a doll. The soul can be good or bad, so it was safer not to give a soul to the doll at all than to risk giving a bad one. Ukrainians used to believe that the doll would take away the illness from children. It was also believed that motanka protects the house from evil spirits and ghosts.
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