In a world filled with big personalities, sometimes it is very hard to keep a situation from getting personal. If you work with others as most of us do, you will face situations where the temptation will be to respond to what appears to be a personal affront.
It can be as simple as a comment on some of your work or perhaps a valued idea that you put forward and it was rejected with little consideration. Sometimes you find yourself in a situation where you are unfairly put on the spot in what appears to be an attempt to make someone else look better.
The easy thing to do is to strike back or even cling to your rejected idea. Nearly one hundred percent of the time, the best thing to do is to lose your negative or combative thoughts and try to focus on the big picture which most people miss.
When I am kayaking on our river, I am mindful of those oyster rocks under the shining surface of the White Oak River, but mostly I try to glide over them and focus on the blue skies without spending all my time worrying that I will get stuck on them.
Your work might sometimes seem like a series of battles, but there is almost always an overarching goal that you are trying to achieve either personally or corporately. If you lose sight of your goal because of a situation that gets personal, you might never reach it.
It can seem like you are in a corner and you might feel the need to battle your way out, but you need to measure how much damage a combative attitude will cause to your long-term goal even if you win. Losing a particular battle can sometimes be the best way to set up an eventual victory in a corporate war.
There are times that resolving a situation is as simple as stepping back and understanding that a comment which upset you might have had more to do with the situation of the person who made the comment than anything you did or did not do. Seen in that light negative comments are easier to let go.
Often silence or even a slight retreat on an issue can you give you enough room to actually position yourself to achieve a long term victory.
Email and voice-mail often make a problem even worse instead of leading to a resolution. People will say things in an email or voice-mail that they would never say in person.
While writing down what has happened in a logical manner might make you feel better, actually sharing your logic might acerbate the person who started the situation and bring a real attack on you.
Similarly clinging to a position that is going to lose in the hopes that you can turn the tide usually will cause you more trouble than accepting that one battle did not go your way. If you continue to fight a losing battle, you are more likely to the miss real opportunities to advance your larger goals.
Sometimes you have to decide what is most important to you, saving face, or making real progress towards a long held goal.