Mental Health matters | “It’s just business”

Coffee image for Film Stories' regular mental health column
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A few words on how people try to de-personalise the treatment of others under the cover of ‘it’s just business.’

Here’s our spot on the Film Stories website where we tend to chat about mental health, bits of being wellbeing, just stuff to do with getting through the day to day of being a human being. It’s a regular thing we do here, and have been doing for years. Will continue to do so, too.

Here’s a bit of a bugbear I wanted to talk about, too. The fact that you’re allowed to treat anyone pretty much any way you like, as long as you preface it all with ‘it’s nothing personal, it’s just business.’

I’ve been on both sides of the metaphorical table when it comes to delivering and receiving difficult news in a work environment. Anybody who tells you that there’s no personal feeling in it is, surely, kidding themselves.

When giving bad news – not asking for sympathy, it’s just not really talked about – it’s about the hardest thing to do at work. It’s not a one hour and you’re done thing, either. Days, weeks of it sitting in your head before and after at the very least. The person who can turn that into ‘it’s just business’ is in a very different world to me.

The worst of course is the receiving end.

Businesses rise and fall all the time, it’s happening on a daily basis. As such, sure, there are things you absolutely can’t control, and sure, it’s not personal in a nasty or vindictive way. But for most people a job is a necessity, and a significant chunk of their waking life. A job they like? That’s particularly worth protecting. Losing it can and is brutal. Being told ‘it’s just business’ might be deflection, might be a protective measure. But it’s BS.

It’s a phrase that’s not just used in the midst of losing work. It’s also deployed for often difficult HR decisions. Who got the promotion? Who got the bonus? Who got the benefit? Who got the treat? Who got the big project? “It’s just business.” Sigh.

Maybe I’m getting old. Maybe I’m getting intolerant. Maybe I should appreciate that nobody wants to be the person giving horrible news – I know confrontation isn’t anything I get any joy from. But still: there are courtesies, and there are ways of treating people.

Treating people right? How about making that just part of business too.

This column will return next week. Will try to be less grumpy.

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