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.