Wednesday, July 7, 2010

It's Not Personal

In work, as in the rest of our lives, much of the time we are dealing with people. Sometimes we hit it off, and a conversation goes really well. We become friends, or allies. And sometimes, not so much.

Was someone rude to you today? Or did a conversation not go well? It's easy to think you did something wrong, or that the other person is just mean. But maybe their baby was up early. Maybe their boss was being difficult. Maybe they are distracted by rumors of downsizing.

It's easy to take things personally. It is easy to assume that the effect that someone's behavior had on us was intentional. Surely, that other person knew that we would become upset, or offended. Certainly, they should have known better.

But it can be even easier to assume it is not personal. That they did not know what was going on in our heads. That they only knew what they were dealing with, not what we were.

I think that most of the time, each of us believes that we are doing our best. We give ourselves the benefit of the doubt. When we slip up, we know that it is not because we are bad people. It is because we had a momentary lapse. Sure, we may beat ourselves up from time to time, but there is also some level of compassion that we have for ourselves.

When we give that benefit of the doubt to others, we show compassion for them, too. And when we show a little more compassion for ourselves, and for others, we make the world a little bit easier for everyone.


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