Personal or business — the struggle is real

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By Debbie Marshall


Technology, automation, efficiency. We can do so many things without ever talking to anyone or leaving our house. Efficiency reigns. Companies like this model because they can push more work though with less people. Less overhead saves us money on the product or service we’re buying. That would seem like a good thing.

But is it?

For anyone who has ever been caught in one of the infuriating automated phone systems, automation can be quite the opposite. For customer service “push 1.” If you know your 36-digit account number, enter it now.” Are they kidding? And if you are fortunate enough to get a live person on the other end, the frustration can get even worse. It’s no longer a conversation. It’s all about the CYA script. Ask three different questions, you get the same scripted answer. Total frustration!

How about: to leave a nasty message, “push 3.”  They never give you that choice, do they?

Infuriation aside, the focus on automation, efficiency and the CYA scripts has robbed us of something important. Relationships. The benefit of human contact. The joy of real customer service. The feeling that you’re being heard and that someone understands you and cares. That’s a human need present in all of us. But don’t take it personally.

How many times have we heard “it’s not personal, it’s business.” You know what?  I think that’s a load of crap! There, I said it. I know that’s what all of you were thinking.

This snippet from a Fast Company article makes a powerful statement.

“One of the most common mistakes people make when building relationships for career success and revenue growth is treating business contacts differently than personal friends. Just think for a moment about the people you work with on a professional level who are also close personal friends. Aren’t they always more forgiving when you slip up and more helpful when you’re in need than new acquaintances are? Of course! I guarantee your work will be easier, more joyful, and more successful if you make more of your business relationships personal.”

I’ve always believed that people are the foundation and lifeblood of every business.  Whether you’re an employee, customer or vendor, you’re a person, not a number, not a sale, but a person. And that, my friend, makes it personal. Act accordingly.


Debbie Marshall is the owner of Thrive Consulting and provides career services, business services, training and motivational speaking. She can be reached at or

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