Any interaction with another person, whether it is with your boss, a customer, your father, a relative or your friend, has the opportunity to lead to hurt or irritation. Here are some tips to help you stop taking things personally so that you can leave your interactions in a smoother and happier way.
1) Know why you are hurting others
Know why you are hurting and respond accordingly. Are you hurting someone because of something that has happened in your own history? Are you adding your history to the present moment and therefore adding fuel to something small and making it appear still bigger?
2) Laugh and make light of it
Laughter can be a wonderful cure and reliever of any injury. If you can keep light about a potential putdown then the putdown loses its power. This does not mean that you leave yourself open to abuse. What it does mean is that you can more easily brush off potentially hurtful comments
3) Tell someone else about what was said and turn it into a funny story.
Tell someone else what has happened and tell it in a way that makes it funny. Does a caricature exaggerate what was said? Think of a funny line back. Build it up until it is funny. This will help the hurt to dissipate.
4) Delay your response
Many people retaliate immediately before they have even had time to think through what has been said. It is a like someone throwing something at you. Would you just stand there and let it hurt you or would you duck and escape? Delaying is like this ducking. Just pause before you respond. This gives you time to think of a good response and to check that you are not adding hurt to what was said.
5) Think of the other person as being “unskilled”
Think of the other person as if he is “unskilled” rather than being “intimidating”, “bossy” or “aggressive.” I will often say to myself, “Well that was an unskilled way of saying things, I wonder what he meant?” This helps me keep calm and non-reactive, yet still available to help the person.
6) Separate out what is specific to you Sometimes people respond immediately to a general complaint as if it is personally directed at them. Be careful about this. Work out what is specifically about you and what is a general complaint that you happen to get because you were in the same place as there are also other persons. When it is not specific to you, remind yourself of this, e.g. you might say to yourself, “After all this is about the company,” or “Perhaps he has obviously got a bad headache.”
7) Monitor for sites of tension build up and let go before they develop seriously
It is natural that every one of us will have physiological changes which occur early on in the process of becoming hurt. If you feel a catch in your stomach tightening, your neck tightening or your hands grasping, early on, you have more chance of letting go and not hooking into the other person’s comments or emotions.
8) Keep breathing
Keep breathing in and out for a few minutes. Some people hear something unpleasant and catch their breath and then do not let go of it. You are more likely to take something personally if you are not breathing!
9) Breathe deeply
Breathe deeply, so your breathing remains calm, regular and deep. Even in a meeting it is possible to put your hand on your midriff to give yourself a physical reminder to keep your breathing deep and regular. If your breathe speeds up and becomes shallow it could be a sign that you are getting hooked in.
10) Do not read criticism into something that is not intended as criticism
Do not read in something that was not there. It is easy to try and “read between the lines” and imagine what someone meant or what they were implying and then to react as though your interpretation is true. It may not also be true. Someone, for example, may have crossed his arms to stop his shoulders aching not because he did not like what you said.
By not getting hurt and looking after yourself, you not only increase your chances of staying healthy but also you are having even more caring to give to others.