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Life Is Better When We Stop Taking It Personally

Awhile back I sent an email called 10 Tips for Dealing With Difficult People. Four people unsubscribed! My Aunt Anne marked it "Spam." Well, not that email but an earlier one—and not on purpose.

Good thing she's got a good meatball recipe. Obviously this is all in good fun. Aunt Anne gave me permission to share both the story and the recipe. And of course she's back on my list.

But I bring this up because it makes a case to lighten up a bit—at least long enough to see things from a more helpful point of view. As in "Subscriber, we hardly knew ye." I'm much more interested in the ones who stay.

What does it mean to not take things personally?

First, it does not mean being a doormat. And it doesn't mean being a stoic. It just means recognizing that not everything is about us. Most things aren't. As the saying goes, "Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about."

Let that thought help you keep perspective—especially the next time a friend or co-worker does any of the following:

  • Misses a deadline
  • Misses your birthday
  • Forgets to say thank you
  • "Forgets" to invite you to the party
  • Lets the call go to voicemail

Yes, these small slights can add up—and the person who missed the deadline needs to be held to account. Likewise for the person who takes credit for your idea or otherwise crosses a line. Confession may be good for the soul, but accountability is good for the whole team. Good and necessary, yes?

How to handle the smaller stuff

It may help to ask yourself three questions:

  • What am I missing?
  • What might be another way of looking at this?
  • What would happen if I let it go?

Sometimes you'll choose not to let it go. But whatever it is, you'll probably respond more creatively, more constructively, and more compassionately than if you had simply charged ahead.

Do this enough times with enough people and your world may never look the same.

Confession may be good for the soul, but accountability is good for the whole team.

Gina DeLapa

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Gina DeLapa is America's Ultimate Reminders® Coach, a sought-after speaker, and the proud creator of the Ultimate Reminders® book series. Her wise and witty reminders ("Beware the organization whose response to a burning building is to form a committee") will make you laugh, stir your soul, and inspire your best. If you're not already getting her free Monday-Morning Pep Talk, be sure to sign up now at