It’s not about you, it really isn’t. When things happen, not taking it personally can be the key to getting through your day more confidently (something many Leaders tell me they are lacking – Confidence!)
The guy who cut you off on your way to work, the mixed up order at the coffee shop and the growled “Hello” from a co-worker as you entered the office really are not about you. They didn’t say, “Hey you, I’m going to be rude to YOU today!” That is theirs to own. It is theirs to take on and deal with it. If you pick up what everyone else is throwing down, you will be carrying a very heavy load throughout your day.
This is trickier when you are a Leader and dealing with something that your employee does. Not taking it personally is hard. I remember many times as a Leader when I would be at the brunt of someone’s anger. Their anger may have been over the wages, the way the program was working or the new forms required of them. In reality, I was the face of the company and so the direction of their frustration was at me. But it wasn’t at ME personally.
It is really important to see the distinction between this. When you take it on personally you feel guilty, angry or defensive. It becomes you against the employee. Your energy is spent with you feeling frustrated and defending your position or the position of the organization and being irritated with the employee.
Taking it personally
“It has to be done. There is nothing I can do about it.”
Here, notice your irritation and frustration about the employee. In your head, you are saying, “Here he goes whining again! Always complaining about the way things are. Why can’t they just do their work?”
Instead, when you don’t take it personally, you are able to see the problem, dilemma or circumstance for what it is. You see the emotion from the employee and acknowledge it separate from being directed at you.
Not taking it personally
“This new form feels like it is going to add extra time and hassles to your day. I get that. Lets look at it together and see what its all about. Maybe we can go back to Management and ask them to cut out one of the old ones that is redundant now or combine some of them.”
Then the key is to really get curious about the impact. Ask questions. Acknowledge their feelings. Sometimes, just being heard and acknowledged is enough for the employee to feel better, and at other times, it really is about looking at the impact and making some changes as a result.
The result for you is a feeling of being competent and confident. Your role as a Leader is to impact things. That impact here is having your employee feel supported. While you may still be frustrated with what is actually happening, by not having attachment and taking it on personally, you are able to let it go and move on to your next task for the day without the weight on you.
Want some help with not taking things personally? Check out Don Miguel Ruiz’s book The Four Agreements. This is a great quick read that shows you how to suffer less. As a Leader it helps you to lead from a place of integrity and authenticity. I highly recommend it!
I lead a full life full of love, adventure and growth. Check out my latest thoughts here.
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