Inter-Colleague Relationships: Don’t Take it Personally

Estimated reading time: 2 mins

We are only human; some days more than others. If you’re reading this it probably means that you care and to you your job is a personal, important endeavor that you take seriously. That’s a good thing as long as it doesn’t lead us off track. Not getting an invite to lunch, misinterpreting the tone of an email, hostile language in a conference call can start to feel real personal real fast. Even though you know rationally that “it’s just business”, we feel what we feel so what to do? The short answer is: take a deep breath and remember it’s all a story.

We all tell ourselves “stories” all day long and the longer we’ve told ourselves the tale the more it has become embellished. For example, when I was a kid I wanted a toy and endlessly harassed my father until, in a frustrated rage, he took us all to the toy store to get it for me. While at the store he slipped on a wet floor and was in traction for a week. The story I told myself for over 20 years was all about me being a bad kid and bad daughter and totally at fault. But when I asked my Dad recently about it he laughed and told me that he sued the toy store and used the money to remodel the bathroom and take us on vacation. He had a totally different perspective on what happened that had absolutely nothing to do with me. The story changed and became one of a normal kid and a loving Dad who had an accident and oddly enough it turned out to be a good thing for us all.

Here are some tips to help make re-writing the story easier.

Redirect your perspective. What if it’s not at all about you? Is your colleague who said it the kind that jokes with everyone in the office that way? Or maybe s/he is threatened by you? Or it may simply be that the other person has some work to do on their communication and maturity.

Worry less. Way easier said than done, but acknowledge the possibility that you need an injection of self confidence. Just because the other person isn’t happy doesn’t mean you did anything wrong. Chances are that person’s unhappiness has little or nothing to do with you. No need to figure out and/or fix that person’s issues, just acknowledge they may have them and they have nothing to do with you.

Speak up. The mean girls in school often grow up to be just as catty, petty and snarky as they were in school. The difference is that now we are adults and, more importantly, working in a professional environment where their behavior is grossly inappropriate. Sometimes you need to let people know how to treat you, so don’t be afraid to speak up as long as you do it in a professional manner.

Susie Brown is a FastUpFront Blog contributor and business author. Fastupfront offers small business cash for existing businesses based on future sales. Apply online for a business cash advance from

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