The competition to get a job or to hold on to one has never been stiffer. To comfortably and successfully navigate the job market, and the workplace with the workforce, you must know when to take things personally and when it’s best to let things go. How many times have you heard the phrases “Hey! It’s business!” or “Business is business!” Taking things personally in the workplace is almost always A VERY BIG MISTAKE. But there are times when you SHOULD take business personally. The key is when to know the difference.
Largely credited with the success of USA Today, Cathie Black, former president now chairman of Hearst Corporation began her career as a sales assistant. Hers is a fun career to trace. Consider Black’s How to Be a Star at Work: 7 Rules for a Really Big Career. All are applicable, especially #3 and #4.
1. Take risks that are calculated, not crazy. When you’re considering taking a risk, ask yourself: How can you maximize your chances of success while minimizing the potential downside?
2. The worst case scenario is rarely as bad as you think. Focus on what you learned from the things that went wrong, and how you can use that knowledge to your advantage.
3. Don’t personalize things that aren’t personal. No matter whether a conflict represents a legitimate criticism, a personality clash, or something in between, you should always treat it as if there’s no personal component at all.
4. It’s best in the long run to make your life a grudge-free zone. There’s actually less real personality conflict than people imagine…and unfortunately, once a degree of friction or distrust has been established, it often grows into a self-fulfilling prophecy, and problems really do start to develop.
5. Be generous with praise – and careful with criticism. Would you be embarrassed to be heard using the same words and tone of voice on the company intercom as you use to speak to your colleagues or subordinates?
6. Know the rules so you know which ones to break. If you have established an essential layer of trust and know the rules, the risk is worth the chance of success.
7. It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission. We want all employees to feel empowered to do their jobs. When in doubt it could be a wise move to take a calculated risk.
Black asks, “How do you respond when a group of people in the office go out for lunch – and you’re not invited? Or when someone interrupts you at a meeting to shoot down your idea? Or when a colleague responds to your e-mail with a sharp critique, cc-ing others in your department?
For many people, the natural response in such situations is to feel not only professionally affronted but personally slighted. Sometimes, we’re so attached to our own ideas that we can’t imagine people having genuine objections to them; we assume it must be a personality thing. And in certain cases it is, of course – but here’s a little secret. No matter whether a conflict represents a legitimate criticism, a personality clash, or something in between, you should always treat it as if there’s no personal component at all.
Making the choice to view conflict in the office as professional, rather than personal, accomplishes two key things. First, it ensures that you don’t accidentally overreact and see a personal component where there is none. Second, it effectively defuses any personality conflict that might really exist. Think of it this way: If someone in the office tries to provoke you personally, what they’re really doing is trying to establish dominance or control over you. By choosing not to respond on that level, you deny them that control. There’s very little upside-to-engaging with a colleague in a personal war. It’s best in the long run to make your life a grudge-free zone.”
So when IS the time to take business personally? You’ll have to wait for my next blog: Hey! It’s Personal! But don’t take it personally!
~From the desk of Becky Morlok~