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Why we need to take it personally
I often hear one of the two comments in the business environment – “don’t take it personally” or “it’s business, not personal”.
I’ve heard it said about feedback, difficult discussions, restructuring, ups and downs in the workplace – in fact, any daily workplace issues.
What a ridiculous idea!
Work is where we spend the majority of our lives from our early twenties to mid-sixties (if we are lucky) and yet we are not supposed to treat it as personal? A number of our close personal relationships develop in the workplace as do many of our greatest challenges with other people and our necessity to look closely at ourselves. Workplace issues can affect our work lives, home lives, our marriages and our relationships with children and friends and our health – yet we are not supposed to take it personally?
I understand that in theory, not taking it personally can be a good idea in order to protect ourselves and leave work at work, but the more time you spend at work the more often you take your work home. If you do not take things personally on some level you run the risk of being disengaged with your staff or colleagues and not having any empathy for their personal and work challenges. If leaders are depersonalised and unengaged they are likely to treat all stakeholders more poorly than if they are engaged and cared about the business and its staff and clients.
The culture of business has changed so much in the last 20 years and there is a lot of research on the “soft” skills needed within workplaces and businesses. You could argue that it is trendy to be more involved in your business and staff on a personal level but not really believe it. But think about this – it isn’t hard to see that there is a connection between engaged employees and business performance. If your employees (regardless of their level) are engaged, you get better results. Isn’t a high level of engagement “taking it personally”?
Yes, if you take work personally you will run the risk of being hurt by comments or disappointed but I believe that it’s worth it. There is no great reward without great risk, and isn’t putting yourself out there and being vulnerable a risk? Yes, but the reward is greater than closing yourself off.
At Gilligan Sheppard, we believe that every member of staff is important, and we care about our team. We also care about all our clients, and we are constantly striving to provide the best services. We want to work with people that we love, and we are very lucky to be able to do that on a daily basis. The leadership team and many staff “take it personally”, and even though it can lead to emotion, it is worth it for the outcome.