I’ve received a good deal of adviceduring my career, but the one piece that stands out the most was given to mewhen I took on my first management position in Johannesburg. I was leavingPietermaritzburg, I was leaving my job and going off to head up a big office ina big law firm in the big city with lots of staff. I was 32 years old at thetime.
One of the older attorneys at the firmI was leaving, who had been around for many years, sat me down and said to me:“There is one thing you need to always remember and that is don’t ever takethings personally. Keep an open mind and at all times try to assess thingsdispassionately.” At the time, I was about to go into a diverse environmentwith many different people from different cultures; the counsel he gave me wasinvaluable.
When negative things happen ordifficult situations arise, I think it’s natural to wonder if you are thereason. But not taking things personally has enabled me to look at scenariosobjectively. It helps you to recognise when someone else is being defensive ortaking something personally and this makes it far easier to address the realissue at hand.
His advice about keeping an open mindhas also helped me tremendously. If you are open and upfront, and you take thepersonal aspect out of things, it lets people know where they stand. And insuch an environment, there is less chance for confusion and unhappiness.
It’s advice I draw on daily and which Ihave passed on to others during my career. Don’t let your hurt feelings takecontrol. It’s not necessarily about you.