Mistake #8: Taking It Personal


When your ego is bruised, remember: no matter what, it’s almost never personal.

This is the last in the series 8 Mistakes Men Don’t Make, inspired by a presentation from Carol Spieckerman and Lisa Carver. Taking things personally is a weakness that confuses issues and, if you’re not careful, results in an uncooperative attitude hinders accomplishing business goals.

Recognize Patterns

If we’re taking things personally, we assume an abrasive (or blunt, direct, manipulative, mean) person has something against us in particular. While that’s certainly possible, the truth is more likely that if someone behaves this way toward you, he or she is the same with others. The trouble with making it about you is that you start to second guess yourself or worse – fall into vindictive mode.  

And so what if it is? What if someone you’re trying to work with really can’t stand you? Who cares? That shouldn’t change the way you behave. If anything it should be a challenge to rise above the situation. If you’re going to assume anything, assume that nothing is personal. Easier said than done? Maybe, but it can be done.

Enlist Perspective

Once you suspect (or assume) that someone’s got it in for you, every word and gesture takes on new meaning . Your judgment is clouded, making it impossible to see things objectively. Talking the situation over with a trusted friend or colleague (depending on the situation) provides alternative ideas for what’s behind another’s behavior. This is perspective you may be too close to the situation to recognize.

Depersonalize Everything

One way to protect against taking things personally is to separate the relationships from business goals, problems, and outcomes. The irony is that the more you shift the focus off of you–your skills, your feelings, whatever–the more successful you are. It’s because your energy is focused on accomplishing the objectives at hand instead of wasted on solving personal issues that may or may not actually exist.

If you liked this post, I hope you’ll check out the rest of the eight mistakes series.

Other Posts in This Series:

1. Seeking Validation

2. Hoping for the Best

3. Avoiding Confrontation

4. Resisting Duality (this one’s very interesting….)

5. Blending In

6. Diminishing

7. Making It Personal

Image Credit: lelia thomas, Flickr