Why You Take Things Personally & How to Stop

Are you someone who takes things personally? Learn how to stop taking things personally so you can boost your confidence in the workplace.

Taking things personally in the workplace can be detrimental to your career. Not only does taking things personally at work make you seem defensive, but it also may demonstrate your lack of confidence or inability to take pride in your work. While you may be tempted to take things personally, it’s important to pause, reflect on why you may be feeling the way you do, and identify the reasons that are leading you to have the perceived mindset that you’re to blame. 

In this article, we’ll outline eight tips and tricks that you can leverage to stop taking things personally at work while outlining the common reasons you may be taking things personally. 

What it means to take something personally and why you shouldn’t

Taking things personally means you take everything to heart. Even if something isn’t about you, you have the perceived mindset that it is. When you live with a great deal of perceived personal importance in your mind, you end up taking things personally because you’re assuming that everything is about you. When someone takes things personally, this usually means that they feel as though they’re under attack. They may feel as though their character, abilities, competence, or personal achievements are in question and may start to get defensive as a result. 

People usually take things personally if something hits a nerve. If you aren’t confident in your abilities at work, you’ll be more inclined to project your own doubts on other people. You may expect people to dislike what you don’t like about yourself, which can lead to a whole host of negative consequences. Taking things personally can contribute to negative, self-limiting beliefs, and can also prevent you from pursuing your goals or reaching your full potential in the workplace. 

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8 ways to stop taking things personally in the workplace 

1Keep your emotions in check 

If you have a tendency to take things personally at work, you know that doing so can be detrimental to your career. In the workplace, you’re constantly mingling with a myriad of personalities. You have deadlines to worry about, customers to please, and you may have a boss who’s always asking for more. It’s normal to get emotional from time to time, but it’s extremely important to learn how to keep your emotions in check. To keep your emotions in check, remember to step back and reflect before you react. If something has gone awry, remain cordial and take the time to step back and respond when you feel more in tune with your best self. 

2Remember that blame is often caused by anger 

It can be extremely easy to take being blamed personally. Not only have you been personally attacked, but you have also more than likely been blamed for or accused of doing something that isn’t your fault. Fortunately for you, blame is almost always caused unjustly by anger. The reason people usually blame others is because doing so is a quick escape from guilt and allows them to take the onus off themselves. It’s important to remember that blame is an easy and effortless tactic to use, which is why you shouldn’t take it too personally. 

3Boost your confidence

Confidence is key, and you’ll come to realize that this will ring true in multiple areas of your career. If you remain confident in your abilities and what you have to offer, you’ll have no reason to take things personally. Imposter syndrome is real, but it’s important to remember that you’ve gotten to where you are because you’ve worked hard, and you deserve to be there. Trust in your abilities and understand that you’re exactly where you need to be. 

4Avoid making assumptions

Nine times out of ten, you’ll have taken something personally strictly because you made a false assumption. The problem with making assumptions is that you believe them to be true. No matter the reality of the situation, you may swear a given assumption is real, which makes it extremely difficult to move forward with a clear head.

5Turn criticism into productive feedback 

Constructive feedback is more powerful than criticism, but some people may occasionally forget to shape their criticism in a way that is respectful and constructive. If you’ve received criticism, you can do one of two things: You can take it personally and let it hinder your success, or you can view it as a gift and use it as an opportunity to improve. 

6Distract yourself by staying busy

If you find yourself making assumptions, it may be because you have too much time on your hands. Failing to keep busy may lead to a wandering mind, which can ultimately lead to you taking things personally. If you keep busy, focus on your work, and remain confident, your mind will have less time to wonder. 

7Stop worrying about what others think of you

Worrying what others think of you will wreak havoc on your mental health. Not only will you be dealing with the demands of your job, but you’ll also be putting many unrealistic expectations on your shoulders. If you remain confident in your performance and daily interactions, there’s no reason to worry about what others may think. 

8Understand that overreactions are often driven by something else 

Everyone has an off day from time to time. If someone has overreacted and their reaction has rubbed you the wrong way, it’s important to remember that their reaction may be a reflection of their own character as opposed to your own. Overreactions are almost always driven by something else, so it’s important to avoid taking someone else’s overreaction personally. 

Common reasons people take things personally 

1They lack pride

Lacking pride or confidence in the workplace is one of the major reasons someone may be taking things personally. Employees who are confident and take a great deal of pride in the work they do will be more secure, and thus have no reason to take everything personally. Pride not only makes us care about how others see us, but it also shapes how we see ourselves. Having a great sense of pride makes us want to feel good about ourselves and make sure others look up to us, admire us, and understand our worth. This mindset is key when learning how to avoid taking things personally.

2They are a social perfectionist 

Social perfectionists are people who are overly concerned with meeting standards that they believe others have of them when in reality, these expectations most likely don’t exist. For social perfectionists, taking on all of this pressure and leaning into these false expectations can cause a great deal of stress. Social perfectionists are more likely to take things personally as they hold themselves to a very high standard and constantly feel as though they are failing to meet their perceived unrealistic expectations. 

3They are unable to be assertive 

Team members who are unable to be assertive often find themselves taking things personally, whereas their confident, more assertive counterparts do not. Assertiveness is having the ability to ask for what you want and need and being able to say no to what doesn’t serve you. While being assertive is key, it’s also important to be assertive in a respectful manner, especially in the workplace. Those who are able to harness the power of assertiveness will begin to value themselves more highly. They’ll understand their worth and become more confident in their choices, and they’ll eventually be able to resist taking things personally. 

4They are projecting their doubts and insecurities

Team members who are always taking things personally may be projecting their own doubts and insecurities onto other people. When something hits an internal cord for someone, it may be because they feel inferior or inadequate, and as a result, they expect those around them to doubt their abilities or dislike what they dislike about themselves. You may be rejecting yourself, which in turn leads you to believe that those around you are doing the same. For example, if you feel inadequate because you’re the only person in the room without a management title, you’ll be hard on yourself and expect those around you to do the same. In reality, you’re in the room because you deserve to be there, and you have something exceptional to offer.

Learn how to stop taking things personally

Learning how to stop taking things personally will do wonders for your career and your mental health. If you focus on yourself, remain confident in your abilities, and stand firm in your beliefs, you’ll find yourself much happier and more content with your work life.


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About the author

Hannah Ross

Hannah Ross is an experienced content creator and digital strategist with a demonstrated history of working with SaaS startups and technical founders to develop and manage scalable digital marketing campaigns. As a Social Media and Content Marketing Lead in the tech space, Hannah is incredibly passionate about solving complex marketing problems with innovative solutions.

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