“It’s Not Personal…” Um, Yes, It Is

“It’s Not Personal…” Um, Yes, It Is

A client recently asked what to do about a colleague who was taking a work conflict personally.

“But it is personal,” I responded.  

To which my client responded with statistics and facts and history.

“Right,” I said. “I get it. It’s not personal for you. It is, however, personal for her.

And until my client understood that the situation would never be resolved. Even if it could be “handled”, there would be loss of camaraderie at best, bitterness at worst.

So, what to do?

First, get rid of the phrase, “It’s not personal.”

(As a sentence, its effectiveness is on par with, “You need to calm down,” and “I told you so, and I think we all know how those end.)

I would also not say, “You seem to be taking this personally.”

(Ahem, accusatory.)

Instead I recommend,

I’m getting the feeling that this is personal for you—and I get that. You take pride in your work and you’re good at your job. Am I reading you right? What more should I know?

Then listen, listen, listen.

Now, some of you may be thinking, “This is a whole lot of effort to put into a situation that isn’t personal.”


But I guarantee it will make any impersonal situation farmore personable in the long run.