If it’s business, make it personal


“It’s not personal, Sonny, it’s strictly business” is a famous line from the 1972 film ‘The Godfather’.

We have all been raised on the myth of ‘it’s business not personal’.  To succeed as business communicators, it’s time to challenge that.  So if you want your messages to stick let’s go against the grain.  But how, how can we make boring business communication personal?

A few years ago we did some work with the chair of a global multinational and his message was ‘spend company money as if it is your own’ i.e. be careful how you spend company money.  This sounds just like another trite company line about cost cutting.  We asked him how he was going with this message and he replied ‘Not very well, but I’m going to keep banging on about this till it hits home’.  We asked him why.  He replied ‘When I was a child, my parents were by no means poor, but neither were we wealthy.  My parents worked very hard for their money and they always told me and my two brothers, you work hard for your money but you get to spend it only once so spend it wisely’.  We discovered he had never shared this with his team and invited him to do so the next time he was presenting this message.  He began with the story and then linked it to the message by saying that is why ‘Spending company money as if it is our own’ resonates with me.  He was surprised at the connection this personalisation created and how the behaviour around spending company money changed.  People realized he was genuine about the message and not just pushing yet another company line.

To make your messages personal think about the personal stories you can share in a purposeful and authentic way to make your communication come alive.

Sadly, most business communication suffers from predictability and sanitization.  But there is hope.  To stand out and be heard above the clutter, consider how you can make it personal…and pack a punch.

 

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7 Comments
  • Reply

    Everything is very open with a very clear description of the challenges.
    It was truly informative. Your site is useful. Thank you for sharing!

  • Carolyn Walker
    Reply

    Yamini, love it!!, need more people thinking this way. I work from this as my differentiator, I believe that ‘business is personal’, and authentic connections are between people, not organisations, who share their stories.

    • Yamini Naidu
      Reply

      Thanks so much Carolyn for sharing your experience, in using the personal in business as your differentiator. You are a trail blazer as we know this is very uncommon. Hopefully that gives other people the courage to follow in your footsteps.
      Best wishes
      Yamini

  • Brad Clark
    Reply

    Could not agree with your comments more. Maybe if some of the larger Corporate’s among’st us did what you said (the world over) we might trust them a little more. Start with the Australian Banking industry. You might need to consider a fairly large expansion.

    • Yamini Naidu
      Reply

      Brad love it! We are already doing work with the the banking industry, but the potential is limitless.
      Best wishes
      Yamini

  • Reply

    Great article Yamini. This is so important because it reminds us that regardless of who we are, or what we do or the position we hold, we are human and humans like to relate to each other. What better way to demonstrate our humanness and our social intelligence than to tell a personal story, one of our own “truths”.
    I agree many companies have yet to realise they too can become better leaders through enhanced relatedness – however your teachings can help them with that!

    • Yamini Naidu
      Reply

      Many thanks Jenny, it is almost like we have to rediscover our personal stories at work and feel safe to bring them into the work space
      Best wishes
      Yamini

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