#37: Don't Take Anything Personally
Yesterday, I saw a post on social media that outlined the Four Agreements. I'd heard of them before, but not seen them written out, and man, did the Second Agreement speak to me: Don't Take Anything Personally.
Here's what the post said:
Don't take anything personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.
Whoa. Mind blown. I take EVERYTHING personally. I believe, in my heart of hearts, that I am personally responsible for just about everything that happens around me, and the way that people treat me. Some of that is just my empathetic soul, but some of it, also, is self-esteem work that I need to do.
But believing that, taking everything personally, is a violation of one of the first things that I teach my salespeople and students—how people act toward you has very little to do with you and everything to do with the baggage that we all bring to every interaction. Take the example of a sales meeting where you arrive and your prospect is rude to you. It would be easy to assume that's because of something you did, but that's probably not the case. Maybe they are short with you because they burned themselves on their coffee this morning. Maybe their dog refused to go out like he was supposed to and now they are running late. Maybe they are feeling uncomfortable in their clothes and it is making them unpleasant to everyone. But to assume it is your fault, immediately, is not only foolish, it is egotistical. How important would you have to be to screw up my day before I even saw you?
So, that's what I have to remember. It's (more than likely) not about me. And by taking it personally, I am inserting my own ego into this interaction instead of approaching it with empathy and trying to help this person who is obviously suffering. The better thing to do would be to stay open, ask good questions, and see if there is some way I can help.