What I always wanted to know about LEADERSHIP

Do you take things too personally?

emotional intelligence feminine leadership personal growth Mar 13, 2023

Did you ever have this poker face when somebody said or did something that you took absolutely personally? Pretending that it's not an issue and that you're cool, and that this did not affect you?

Yep - I did. Many times. 

We all take (some) things personally. 

  • When someone interrupts us.
  • Rolls their eyes at us. 
  • Laughs at a question or statement.
  • When someone raises their voice or expresses anger. 
  • When our work gets criticized. 

We all have our own list of things we tend to get offended by or feel attacked by. Despite the poker face. 


Let's face it: most things are NOT PERSONAL ATTACKS. 

  • People might be thoughtless before opening their mouths.
  • People don't know OUR triggers when they say or do something (except our kids - they most definitely do) and it simply FEELS personal.
  • People are so focused on themselves that they don't consider the potential impact of their actions or words. 

WHAT to do and what NOT to do

First of all, it's never a good idea to pretend you're not affected. The result is that it will happen again - as the topic is never addressed - within and in the external world. So - face your emotions and - if appropriate - express them. 

AND - before doing the latter have a reality check and self-regulation check to see if it's even necessary. 

4 Powerful question which can shift reality

Here are the questions that I ask people when they took something personally and which help find this out:

  1. What is the objective truth? (somebody cut me off in a meeting)
  2. What is the subjective truth? (what an idiot, how dare she, prick….how can he be so disrespectful, this was so humiliating…etc.)
  3. Who would you be without this feeling? (curious: why did you interrupt me? Friendly, patient and assertive: could you please let me finish?)
  4. How could you change your response (not what you say per se, but HOW you feel, answer etc.- this could be - looking at the objective truth, taking a deep breath, keeping the connection while standing up for myself in an appropriate way)

Particularly numbers 1 and 2 are eye-openers! 

We simply fall into behaviour patterns which we have practised probably FOREVER. 

And our response/reaction has FAR more to do with ourselves than with what the other person did or said.

That was quite an epiphany for me…and from then on I asked myself an important question:


And the answer was manifold: 

  • it could be that the other person violated my values. Which creates an immediate reaction in many people. 
  • Another reason: my own insecurities - fear of not being taken seriously, feeling like an imposter or not good enough….you know all the good stuff many of us like to ignore. 

However, even while we take responsibility for our own feelings and reactions that does not mean that people around us can misbehave or be assholes. 

It's all about balance (the opposite of extremes)

Here BALANCE kicks in - one of my favourite words. 

So - if the other person was actually inconsiderate (like interrupting or being rude) this calls for expressing it to create the chance for change. THAT is nothing else than setting boundaries.

If the personal reaction is rather based upon a sensitivity or insecurity of your own - it's your responsibility to change your response and to work on your inner game - not necessarily on the other person to avoid the action or word (like when you get criticized or mistakes are pointed out). 

Again - balance. 

A chance for more joy and being content

And using the chance WHEN unwanted emotions pop up to work on our emotional intelligence and resilience. 

Not necessarily for others - it still tends to improve communication & relationships though. 

Rather for ourselves. 

Being calmer, more resilient and NOT taking things too personally helps big time to feel more content, have more joy and be happier. 

Enough reasons for me to work on it. 


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