A very wise man once told me that business is just about creating relationships based on trust. Okay, I’m bastardizing that a little bit, but the fact remains that Sudsy (yes, that is his real name) was a pretty smart guy, and that statement pretty much makes up the foundation of my business.
Now, I’ve read tons of stuff that says “don’t mix business and personal,” but, while that might fly in the corporate world, I think we in the arts have a slightly different take.
I’d be lying if I said I’d never been burned, and lost friends because of a business relationship gone awry (those of you who still owe me money, you know who you are). But at the end of the day, I’d much rather work with people I like, than with people I don’t.
Well, duh. I mean, obviously. I have, and I’m sure you have too, worked for bosses that were overbearing, nit-picky, controlling and micro-managing. I have also had the experience of working for someone whose philosophy was “I hire good people, and then I let them do their job.” Guess which one of those bosses I am still in contact with? (Hey, Pete.) But in the world of work, it makes a huge difference to office morale when the person who is in charge believes that you are actually proficient at your job. And you spend a lot of time at work. I know, think of the money, but few people are completely satisfied with that.
Our world of the Arts is not so different. For example, in the theatre, don’t you love it when you get a director who is okay with you bringing stuff into rehearsal, who is open to playing and listening to what you might have to contribute to your character? And wouldn’t you rather spend all those hours in rehearsal with a bunch of people you actually enjoy spending time with? Some of my greatest friendships (and a few boyfriends!) have come out of those experiences.
So I say, mix away. Certainly, use your common sense–if the people you are working with are wanting to keep the relationship formal, then do what you need to to keep them comfortable. But there is nothing wrong with being true to yourself and your personality. And it sure does make work more pleasant.
I’d love to hear your comments: should we mix ‘business’ and ‘personal’? Or is is better to have boundaries and keep them separate?