For as long as I can remember, I had the belief that you should never mix your business life with your professional life. "Don't bring your personal stuff to work and don't bring your work stuff home." I can't pinpoint the source of this mantra or whether it was just a residual of the Mad Men philosophy of work that was still an influence in my sphere or, perhaps, being a teen of the nineties, an extrapolation of the "Two Worlds Colliding" theory on Seinfeld, but this belief was innate.
While I was lucky enough to save myself from suffering from the affliction I have dubbed "Two Selves" (see below), others have not been so lucky. Do you know any of these people? The easiest way to describe them would be the ones with the Jekyll and Hyde personalities: Jekyll for home and Hyde for work (or vice versa--I never could remember which one was the crazy one). A caricature of someone suffering from the "Two Selves" would look something like this: that guy at the office who couldn't be bothered to say hi to people or ask them how they're doing and has no regard for anyone's feelings as he barks orders at his staff being the same guy who lets his granddaughter paint his nails and take him on one hour walks that only stretch a block as they discover and examine all of the ladybugs and leaves in the neighbourhood. Do you know one of those? Or, perhaps, you yourself might be afflicted? Quick test: if two people from each of your worlds meets each other and starts comparing notes, if they don't believe they're talking about the same person, you may be suffering from "Two Selves".
I was very close to developing "Two Selves", but I was lucky enough to join an amazing organization soon after graduation that quickly shot down that theory and encouraged us to get to know each other, even like each other, and gain an understanding and appreciation of where each other comes from. The owners of this company understood that, while some of the rules of business might be different (i.e., dress code, business communication, etc.), generally the rules of engagement remained the same regardless of whether it was business or personal. That is, you're much more likely to yield a positive result if you treat people (business associates, clients, vendors, staff....spouses, parents, friends, children) with respect and decency than not. Simple, right?
Maybe, but I myself have struggled with this at times, as have most of my clients (although, thankfully, not usually to the extreme as the caricature above) and decided to use this blog as a direct challenge to the assumption that one should not mix business with personal. So, be forewarned. We're going to get a little bit business and we're going to get a little bit personal. Let's hope that we have more success combining these two than the forefather of this movement: the mullet.