Keeping The “Personal” Out Of Business

We’ve all heard the saying, “don’t mix business with pleasure”.  And we know better than to divulge too much of our personal information with our clients.  But what if we have a client that is very, social, for the lack better term.  They want to talk about everything that’s going on with them and they want us share anything about ourselves with them.  And they may justify it by saying they want to get to know who they’re doing business with and see if it’s a match for them.  Yet, the questions they ask become too personal or personal enough that we rather not share them with someone we’re doing business with.  How do carefully and respectively draw that line while maintaining a positive and cordial business relationship?

The more personal information we feel coerced in sharing may have been initiated when we first met with our client.  That first introductory meeting, how much we  say?  Did we bring up our children or spouses/ significant others?  Our likes and dislikes that have nothing to do with the business at hand?  Maybe we share that we’re moving or getting ready to make some changes in the near future?  Or we’re going once we leave this meeting?  Most of these seem like harmless conversational  ice breakers, but it’s here, in that initial meeting that we can share too much and be expected to continue to share too much.  Honestly, do our clients need to know what school our kids go to?  Whose bottom line is that helping?

But before we pull back and think that we have to keep it strictly ALL business and get down to the issues at hand, we can still keep friendly.  It is not unusual for a client to want to know the person they’re doing business with; it’s expected as it should be.  Yet, rather than sharing how we’re holding down the family front or that we’re going to meet up with some friends right after this meeting, let’s talk about our experiences in the field of work we do.  How did we get into it, why do we think we’re good at what we do, past clients who’ve you worked with (and before we name drop, get permission because we never know who might know who) and why did we decide to going into business for ourselves.  When we go that route, it’s completely harmless and not too personal.  It keeps the conversation and atmosphere friendly without divulging the nitty-gritty about what we do when we’re not working.



And if we feel as if we already started on the wrong foot with sharing too much and we kind of don’t want to share anymore, be honest.  We can say that we have some things going on that we rather not share.  Assure them nothing’s terribly wrong, but we need to keep home and personal matters to ourselves.  Besides, we can socialize after the meeting but right now we’re taking care of business.


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