YES, please keep it personal at the work place.
By Marwa Karoura - Inspirational coach and founder of KTALK
Should you keep it professional in the workplace even when it is personal? I say no.
Allow me to start with an example. My assistant’s father was rushed to the hospital in critical condition, but still made it to work that day. Fulfilling one’s obligations is commendable, but at some point we can’t forget to be human. While he was physically present, mentality he wasn’t – which in turn meant no effective productivity. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to take the whole day off?
As human beings, we simply cannot separate the two – personal vs. professional; because we are holistic beings that operate as such. While it would be ideal for employees not to be affected, asking them to leave their personal matters at the door is unrealistic, something I empathise more with as an Executive Coach.
We simply cannot eliminate who we are in favour of operating as drones in the workplace. Our emotions and reactions are ever prevalent, and will be influenced by our personal perception towards external forces. That is why I take offense to clichés that allow us to proclaim ‘It’s not personal’ or ask others to take ‘No offense’. Have you ever looked at the reaction of the one receiving these requests? Or the one dishing it out? Feelings of anger and frustration are apparent, along with underlying sentiments of disappointment and shame.
Looking further into this behavior I realised that these statements are the self’s way of overcoming shame, disconnection and self-judgment. The thing is, it is personal; and we are ashamed to admit that it is. Therefore it doesn’t make sense in the work place to ask someone to take the ‘personal’ out of it, since it will always be there – it is in the core of who we are as human beings.
In the workplace it is therefore important to know who you are. Living merely out of communal values standardised by humanity, finding and expanding your personal values will enlighten you about the abundance of differences and will allow you to clearly move forward in your interactions with others and tolerate diversification.
Setting your personal space. Redefine what success means to you and where you fit in in the big scheme of things, not only in work but in life. In addition to acknowledging how much you are willing to sacrifice, you must also own your personal choices and understand its consequences. As you take mindful reactions towards your responsibilities in different setups you eventually increase your emotional resilience when it comes to feedback or criticism.
Clarifying Intentions. Most of our raging emotional reactions are built on a perception we are having in our unconscious minds, and based on an experience buried deep within our souls. As we react out of shame and disconnection, we behave in a protective manner that results from uncertainty.
Being mindful and conscious of what emotions we are experiencing, why we react the way we do, how we are nurturing the outcome and how is it aligned with our will – will help us come back to reality and react consciously.
Finally, be present and move forward. Incidents will always happen, assess how long you need to come back to your plan of action. It is your responsibility to allow and permit healthy interferences, skepticism and questioning from your surrounding environment.
In turn, it is also your responsibility to defy put downs, personal attacks and unsubstantiated claims about motivation and intentions. It is your responsibility to be yourself in the work place. Eventually you will be grounded enough to find the truth in criticism and feed back if there is any.
So yes, keep it personal; find congruency with who you really are, and what you need to be as a personal professional.