A long while ago I read a meme on Instagram or Facebook that said something along the lines of, “Once you start to see people’s behaviours as an extension of themselves rather than a reflection of you, you start to live”, or something like that. It was social media, so I moved past it to the next video of a laughing goat or nodding cats. 🙂
But to my surprise, the words stuck. They help guide me when I am hurt, confused or frustrated by someone’s response to something I have done or said. When there is a perceived absence of logic, or justification for someone’s behaviour, it helps to understand that it may have absolutely nothing to do with me as a person.
Then, just last week I came across the below quote from a book called “Leadership on the line: Staying alive through the dangers of leading” by Ronald A Heifetz and Marty Linsky (2017). They manage to articulate, much more thoroughly than a random meme, how I need to remember it isn’t always about me. When a situation feels terrible, and I am unable to connect with the person I am talking to, I tend to internalise it and make myself analyse it over and over and over and over………. Well, you get the gist.
“It is easy to confuse yourself with the roles you take on in your organisation and community. The world colludes in the confusion by reinforcing your professional persona. Colleagues, subordinates, and bosses treat you as if the role you play is the essence of you, the real you…Confusing role with self is a trap. Even though you may put all of yourself into your role – your passion, values, and artistry – the people in your setting will be reacting to you, not primarily as a person, but as the role you take in their lives. Even when their responses to you seem very personal, you need to read them primarily as reactions to how well you are meeting their expectations. In fact, it is vital to your own stability and peace of mind that you understand this, so that you can interpret and decipher people’s criticism before internalizing it.” (Heifetz and Linksy, 2017, 187-188).
Instead, if you can take a step back and realise that the person might just be responding to the role you are in, not the person you are, you’ll probably A) feel heaps better and B) be able to see things more objectively. That’s a double win in my books!
So this weeks’ PD is a recommendation of the above book. Maybe it’s available at your local library? Or you can buy it as an eBook, and audible book as well as a hard cover.
P:S: I found that original quote from Social Media. Not quite the way I remember it, but hey, who remembers everything they read right?