Welcome to Secret #4 of 7 Secrets To Mastering Communication
SECRET #4 – Don’t Take It Personally
What someone says is about them. What we hear is about us.
Kelly Bryson, MFT and author of “Don’t Be Nice, Be Real” gives some great tips inspired by Stan Dale, founder of the Human Awareness Institute who coined the acronym, Q-TIP, for Quit Taking It Personally.
Are you someone who feels like salt has been thrown on an old wound any time someone makes a comment that you disagree with or challenges you for anything? When that happens, we are not truly hearing what that person said. Instead, we are hearing through the filter of our Internal Chain Of Commands. We start blaming them or ourselves or apologizing, feeling guilty and taking responsibility for the situation, their emotional needs or a variety of other reactions.
Instead of hearing and responding to the needs and feelings the other person is expressing, we take it all personally. And frankly, we just aren’t that important.
How would it be if we listened instead for their pain and unmet needs instead of making it all about us? More often than not, people are distressed about something that may not have anything to do with you. Call it displaced anger, fear or concerns, but it isn’t really about you. Maybe your comment pulled the trigger, but you didn’t fire the bullet. This is when it’s smart to listen with your senses and intuition to get to the deeper meaning of what the other person is expressing.
Let’s say your partner says she is unhappy that you never have real dates anymore and just hang out at home instead. If you answer by reminding her of the last time you took her out or telling her how busy your life is, too, you’ve haven’t heard what she is really saying. Maybe instead, she needs some empathy about how scary it is to talk to you about spending more time together without feeling like a nag. Remember, it’s about her, not about you or going to another movie. She can do that on her own or with a girlfriend. When you don’t take it personally your focus shifts from what you hear to what the other person is really expressing.
What she is expressing is a need for more closeness, companionship and special fun time from you.
Look at these two replies.
“Are you feeling disappointed because you want more companionship?”
“Are you upset because you need me to take you out more often?”
Can you see the difference? In one response you are showing understanding and empathy. In the other one, you place yourself as the solution to her needs and that isn’t your responsibility.
Taking on the burden of responsibility for another person’s pain prevents us from being fully responsive and empathetic. Instead, we react out of guilt, shame, fear or some unspoken rule that we feel we must respect. Think about it. When you find yourself reacting like this, what are the conversations you are having in your head? How present are you really? It’s time to quit taking it personally!
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To Your Masterful Communication!
If you’re frustrated at not being heard, feel like your needs are not being met, say “Yes” when you really want to say “No” and take things personally, then you should definitely contact me today about my innovative online Compatibility Index. In less than 60 minutes, I can tell you exactly why you are struggling in your conversations and give you tips and strategies for communicating your needs and desires confidently, elegantly and guilt-free!