Front Runners, LLC

Success and tenacity go hand in hand.


Dave Cunningham / November 12, 2008


But don’t take it personally. 


This was the advice I received earlier today when some of my writing was rejected by a publisher. “Don’t take it personally.”  What an interesting phrase.  I can recall so many times during my sales career, I heard the same advice.  “We know that you have spent considerable time and money working with our staff.  But we’ve decided to go with your competitor. Don’t take it personally because we still like you better.”


What an insensitive thing to say to someone who is, at the moment those words are spoken, taking something very personally! 


Do any of these sound familiar?


Honey, I know we’ve been together for “X” months or “X” years.  I’ve found someone new.  She’s prettier than you or he’s wealthier than you.  So I’ll be moving on.  But don’t take it personally.


I know that you’ve worked here for fifteen years and that just a few months ago you received a positive performance appraisal and a small raise, but we’re letting you go.  Don’t take it personally.


Sure you ran a great campaign and thousands of people voted for you.  But you lost.  Don’t take it personally.


Yes, you’ve been training all your life to run in the Marathon.  But you didn’t qualify.  Don’t be upset.  There’s no need to take it personally.


You were a wonderful daughter who gave up the best years of your life to care for mom.  But she left her money to your brother.  Don’t take it personally!


It seems like such a sensible thing to say, “Don’t take it personally.” When you’re on the receiving end of this advice, it almost makes sense.  Some part of you wants to agree even though your insides are raw.  “Yeah, right, I think I’ll ignore my feelings and nurture a nice ulcer in my gut instead.  After all I don’t want to be taking myself personally.”


For anyone who has ever uttered the “DTIP” phrase, listen up!  When you’re hurting, it’s personal!  Got it?  Good!  Stop saying it!


After too many years of too many people saying, too many times, “DTIP”, I have concluded that these words apply more to the speaker than to the receiver.  For example, “listen pal, I am not feeling your pain and I really don’t want to feel your pain because I do not take this personally in any way.  So how about showing me some consideration too and “DTIP.”


There are other better choices.  They’re called empathy and sympathy.  Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t advocate encouraging someone to wallow in their own self pity.  But there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging another person’s predicament. 


The next time you find yourself ready to say the “DTIP” phrase, try this instead, “Gosh, you must feel terrible about  . . . .” (then name it, whatever it is).  Try listening to the other person for a minute or two.  Then say something like, “I’m sorry this happened to you.”  


I like the adage, “people don’t care what you know until they know that you care.”  This is applicable in times like these. 


Empathy can be transformative, since most of us just want to be acknowledged.  Once that happens, the circumstances that were so stressful seem less important.  They begin to dissipate and guess what!  It isn’t personal any more. 



  1. bitter White Man in Former Red State
    November 13, 2008

    Empathy and Sympathy have nothing in common. Empathy is having walked in another’s shoes and have experienced that persons pain. It is going outside of your experience and sharing another’s.

    Sympathy is feeling sorry for someone as if you are better than they are. Kinda like the elitist democrats that think you are too stupid to manage your own money so the government should do it for you!

  2. thefirstlady
    November 13, 2008

    I think often times, “don’t take it personally” in fact translates to mean “don’t make me feel uncomfortable because you are disappointed.” It is a way to disengage when giving someone bad news. Kind of like telling a still-disatisfied customer “well, have a nice day!”

    How about uplifting quotes? Lacking in originality, I know. If you don’t like it, I won’t take it personally. 🙂

    “Supposing you have tried and failed again and again. You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing that we call “Failure” is not the falling down, but the staying down.”

  3. Virginia Gentleman
    November 18, 2008

    How about IRDGAS (I really don’t give a shit) as substitute for DTIP? IRDGAS seems a little more honest. DTIP, as you point out, is a dodge.

    I would also suggest IRDGASIYTIP (I bet you can figure this one out). If you can’t, TS. 🙂

  4. Virginia Gentleman
    November 18, 2008

    Hey, I posted that at 8:34 a.m., not 1:34 p.m.! What up with that? NTIGAS.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on November 12, 2008 by in Manners and tagged .
%d bloggers like this: