As I’ve said before, this blog is not about politics. However, with the opening of the Democratic Convention and the true beginning of the Presidential race, it seems an appropriate time to write about an aspect of politics that holds very true in business as well.
One big mistake about which I used to caution the people I managed was what I called the Sonny Corleone error. As Tom Hagan says, “Your father wouldn’t want to hear this, Sonny. This is business not personal.” What I meant by that was that personal attacks can’t ever take the place of sound logic and a good plan. In debates, they call this argumentum ad hominem. The fancy Latin simply means argument against the person and is the error of attacking the character or motives of a person who has stated an idea, rather than the idea itself.
I am very hopeful that the two candidates will not commit this error. I believe that most Americans want to hear what each of their respective plans are for our country and then make a decision about which plan to support. You can do business with people who aren’t your cup of tea – you don’t like their clothes, their hair, their political party, their world view – as long as they don’t stray ethically in a manner that affects your dealings with them. What I mean by that is that it’s unimportant to me if a business partner likes to drink or gamble as long as that drinking and gambling doesn’t cause him to rip off customers. I’ve done plenty of business over the years with folks I probably would not invite to my home (and I’m sure they’re not itching to have me over either). That doesn’t mean we didn’t have productive dealings. Yes, I’m concerned if either of the two candidates is on the mob’s payroll but I don’t care if they got drunk 25 years ago.
As the campaign rolls to November, listen for who is emphasizing a plan and who is committing the error of argumentum ad hominem. It’s not good in business and it’s no better in the business of politics.