Don’t Take It Personally

Today is Friday, so this post is on interpersonal competence

The college football season finally ended last Monday. LSU beat Ohio State 38 – 24 to win the national championship.  My team, Penn State won the Alamo Bowl way back on December 29.  They beat Texas A&M. 

Before the game, one of the Texas A&M yell leaders (a cheerleader at any other school) said that Joe Paterno, the Penn State coach, is “on his deathbed” and that “someone needs to find him a casket.”  Joe Paterno is 81 years old.  The Alamo Bowl was his 500th game as the Head Football Coach at Penn State.  He is an icon in college football.

A lot of people were very upset about the A&M yell leader’s remarks.  The university sent him home.  Joe Paterno was cool about it.  He said, “I think everybody has to take things with a grain of salt.  Some young guy went up there, trying to be funny.  Maybe he’s accurate, I don’t know.”

Joe Paterno’s reaction demonstrated his interpersonal competence.  He didn’t blow the situation out of proportion.  He saw the humor in the situation, even though it was directed at him.  He didn’t take it personally.

And that’s one of the main keys to interpersonal competence – don’t take it personally.

The second agreement in Don Miguel Ruiz’ great book based on Toltec Wisdom, The Four Agreements, is “Don’t Take Anything Personally”.  Listen to what Mr. Ruiz has to say:

“Nothing other people do is because of you.  It is because of themselves.  All people live in their own dream, in their own mind; they are in a completely different world from the one we live in.  When we take something personally, we make the assumption that they know what is in our world, and we try to impose our world on their world.

“Even when a situation seems so personal, even if others insult you directly, it has nothing to do with you.  What they say, what they do, and the opinions they give are according to the agreements they have in their own minds.  Their point of view comes from all the programming they received during domestication…

“When you take things personally…you make something big out of something so little, because you have the need to be right and make everybody else wrong.  You also try hard to be right by giving them your own opinions.”

Joe Paterno gets this.  He didn’t take the yell leader’s comments personally.  In fact, he saw the humor in them.  Interpersonally competent people know this and work hard to not take things personally.

If you think about it, taking things personally is narcissistic.  When you take things personally, you are assuming that that what another person does or says is because of what he or she thinks of you.  In my experience, in 99.999% of cases, most people do not do things because they think they will upset me, make me angry, make me happy or sad.  They do what they do for their own reasons.  As Joe Paterno pointed out, the Texas A&M yell leader probably thought he was being funny.  Only he knows for sure.

The common sense point here is simple.  Don’t take things personally – even if they seem very personal to you.  You’ll build stronger, more lasting relationships and become known as an interpersonally competent person.

That’s it for today.  Thanks for reading.  Log on to my website for more common sense.  I had decided to close down my other blog: to concentrate on this one.  However, several people have suggested that I leave it up even if I plan no more posts.  It seems as if they feel that what I’ve written there over the past few years is valuable content and deserves its place in cyber space.  So, I am going to leave up  I may even post there every once in a while.  If you enjoyed it, don’t cancel your RSS feed.  This means that if you want a free ebook version of my book 4 Secrets of High Performing Organizations, you can still get it by logging on to

I’ll see you around the web, and at Alex’s Lemonade Stand.


PS: Speaking of Alex’s Lemonade Stand – my fundraising page is still open.  Please go to to read Alex’s inspiring story and to donate if you can.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.