Don’t Take It Personally

by Emily Jasper on January 21, 2010

When I got hired in my first real world job, someone sat down with me and went through the file to show me attributes about my work style and personality that had been revealed through my hiring assessments. One thing that popped out was that I am a People Pleaser. I want to do things right, anticipate needs, and in general, make everyone happy. This can be good, but on the flip side, I will take on stress bending over backwards, and if something doesn’t turn out right, I take personal responsibility 99% of the time.

This is also part of my personal life.

I think about how I’m perceived, imagine that I have some control, and do my best to keep everything around me running smoothly.

This means I also analyze fervently in the back of my mind trying to understand how people’s reactions might be a manifestation of a way that I didn’t please them. That I didn’t do my job to keep things copacetic. And I can take it personally.

So when I started blogging, I hadn’t thought through how I’d really react to people who didn’t agree with me. Sure, I had contemplated that I’d brush off those angry hostile responses I’d get from the crazies. I’d rise above them.

Understanding the bloggers who disagreed, but took time to write thoughtful responses, became a whole other issue. I began to think that they must HATE me! Clearly, I must have failed them somehow because I didn’t think the same way. I wasn’t one of “the gang” because I had the opposite view. How could I call myself a Gen-Y blogger when I seem to find value in systems like corporate life and planning ahead? If you can’t tell, I’m also not exactly the debating type, so I wasn’t planning on firing back a witty, yet well-researched, response.

I literally worried that if I ever met these bloggers face-to-face, they would already look down (I’m short), give me *that* look, and say, “Well, you’re not really good enough, are you?”

Then I met Rebecca Thorman. We don’t always agree, but in meeting her face-to-face, I realized she probably didn’t keep a mental log of all the times that we might have had opposite positions on a subject. Sure, blogging is a piece of our lives, but there’s so much more.

And since then, I’ve been doing my best to learn from those who share the opposite view. They do like me enough to share constructive thoughts instead of bashing me for no reason. They support me on other posts, share links, and we still arrange times to get together. Most of us have open invitations for grabbing a drink if we’re in each other’s city.

It’s also an opportunity to learn something about yourself. There are times that I’ll admit my view may have been too narrow. There are times that I’ll acknowledge that these comments made me think differently. I might have even changed my own mind once learning more. We’re allowed to do that. We’re allowed to grow.

In fact, we should.

How do you manage comments on your blog? What goes through your head when you don’t agree with a post? How do you continue to build relationships when you may have opposite views?

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