What others think of us is none of our business

Given that project management is a people-oriented profession, a key reality is the fact that the most difficult challenges we’ll face relate to people. And, to be clear, the most challenging person to deal with can (often) be ourselves…

That is, if we aren’t careful, we can get hung up (in our own head) with regards to how others act or behave towards us. We may ask ourselves: why are they acting this way, why don’t they like me or what did I do wrong?

While we obviously need to be self-aware enough to listen for queues that would point out opportunities to improve, there are times when others are just “struggling with life” and this can manifest itself as misbehavior towards us or others…

To nip this in the bud (in our mind), we need to realize that what goes on in someone else’s mind is their entirely made up world (just like what goes on in our own mind is OUR entirely made up world). We form perceptions and opinions about others without knowing more than a fraction of what that other person is all about. 

As we mature in this knowledge, we begin to realize how important it is to give people the benefit of the doubt. 

In giving people the benefit of the doubt, we need to fully extend that to realize when someone “seems” to be misbehaving (towards us) we cannot take it personally. You see, they are living in their own head, misbehaving because of something (very rarely is it us) that is eating at them.

When someone is misbehaving towards me (or others), I often think, it must suck to be them right now. That is, they must be going thru some serious stuff to be acting like this. At this point, we can simply offer empathy and/or help, then let it go!

A highly recommended book that can help in this regard is The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz. Following is a summary of the agreements (with ourselves) we are encouraged to espouse:

  1. Be impeccable with your word – Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using words to speak against yourself or gossip about others. Use the power of your word to offer love, never use it to cause fear or pain in another (or yourself).
  2. Don’t take anything personally – Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a result of their own dream or perception of their rules. We all make rules about how things should be, but when you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be a victim of needless suffering.
  3. Don’t make assumptions – Find the courage to ask questions and express what you really want. Communicate to others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
  4. Always do your best – Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgement, self-abuse and regret.

We must realize, the biggest challenge we all have in our lives is the person looking back at us in the mirror. This is a basic reality that many people never get.

By knowing this applies to EVERYONE on the planet, we can focus on the ONLY person/thing we have control over and that is ourselves and our mind (how we think). 

On that note, investing time in books such as what is recommended above is hugely important and cannot be over-stated.

And, we can rest in the comfort of knowing that what other people think about us is none of our business

There is so much opportunity out there, and one of the most rewarding aspects is the knowledge and experience gained by working with others who are going thru life (just like us). 

So, keep plowing…

In closing, if you are looking to improve PM capabilities in yourself, or organization, feel free to reach out so that we can discuss how I can help.

Click here to return to our topical index of articles on High Performance Project Management.

One thought on “What others think of us is none of our business

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s