It’s not you, it’s THEM: The life-changing art of depersonalizing and how to do it.

Blog | September 21, 2021

What if you took NOTHING personally?

Think about a recent interaction that upset you. 

Hint: You shouldn’t have to look too far. This is the type of conversation or  interaction we usually find ourselves ruminating and spinning over later. 

NOW imagine: What if it NEVER upset you in the first place? If you had been able to maintain a clear, objective head throughout the difficult interaction?

Cue angel song. THIS is the power of depersonalization. 

In my last article, I talked about learning to trust the messages that come through our nervous system, through our bodily experience. In other words:

You have a superpower as a leader if you can pay attention and gather this unspoken information. 

It requires a keen sense of self-awareness to be able to discern that what you’re picking up is not yours but belongs to the person with whom you’re interacting. 

AND it requires the ability to depersonalize, or not take personally or get triggered by whatever you’re picking up. In other words, to realize:

It’s not ABOUT you. (It almost never is.)

How do I know all this? Okay, yes, I am a seasoned master coach who created a proprietary method for mastering the nervous system, EQ, and interpersonal skills required at the top levels of leadership. And:

I am the (recovering) queen of personalization.

As in, I spent much of my life taking EVERYTHING personally. I’m not exaggerating when I say everything.

Part of this was born out of a highly attuned nervous system that could read—like an open book—the feelings and sensations of people around me.

And before I knew better, my next “logical” assumption was that somehow I was causing those feelings for them. 

Let’s say I picked up on someone’s not-so-fun feelings. About anything. A higher-up’s disapproval of the way a project was handled. A direct report’s unhappiness with their role. My spouse’s distraction at work. Any circumstance like these could throw me off-kilter and thrust me into a reactive space. See if you recognize any of this internal dialogue from your own experience: 

What could I have done differently? Were they criticizing me? What can I do to fix it? 

Their uncomfortable feelings would trigger my uncomfortable feelings and reactions:

You gotta be kidding me! Who do they think they are? Do they know how long and hard I worked on completing that project/defining that role?? 

Then I might respond in one of several ways: jump in to placate or apologize, or get defensive and lash out, even if it had nothing to do with me.

And mostly, it had NOTHING to do with me.  

And here’s the thing: Even if it IS our fault, and of course there will be times when we are responsible, still…DON’T take it personally. 

I’m not saying actively deny everything. That would be the same as making everything about US.

This is about staying NEUTRAL when assessing the situation. Remaining objective. This is what can be so powerful, profound, and transformative.

By staying neutral, you can defuse a charged situation, which paves the way toward solution, and away from conflict.

How much time and energy could that save you??

Let’s be clear. We are talking about ninja skills here, skills that must be honed and challenged and practiced—over time

The first, critical step is honing the skill of self-awareness. Knowing what is yours, and what is theirs. This includes knowing our own triggers and issues. 

What are we feeling threatened by? What are we worried about? We need to attend to those issues in order to not personalize. 

(Partnering with a coach is a great way to get to the bottom of all this, by the way. Just saying.)

Then, even with self-awareness, there will be times that you WILL get triggered. But it’s how you respond that counts.

Yep, there’s inner work to do here. Work that’s facilitated by working with a great coach. 

If you are ready to stop wasting time and energy on high-stakes, highly-”personal” difficult interactions, let’s talk. One of our coaches can help you get to superpower level faster and easier. Schedule a complimentary discovery call to learn more, today.

Rachel Rider
Executive Coach, Leadership Consultant