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Do You Take Yourself Too Seriously?

Do You Take Yourself Too Seriously?


    It’s difficult to take yourself seriously in a world where certain celebrities literally make millions of dollars a year by simply living their lives in such a manner that they provide frequent fodder for tabloid magazines. But then again, who says you have to take yourself too seriously? I think that many of us get in our own way sometimes by taking ourselves too seriously. Perhaps you take your job title too seriously, or maybe your hobbies you take too seriously? In one way or another, I think most of us are guilty of this.

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    It can be difficult to make progress when you are taking yourself too seriously. Let’s say that you’re a manager, and you spend all of your time micro-managing. When are you going to get your own work done? Are you working 70 hours a week, and blaming it on others, when you could be working 40-50 hours a week if you stopped taking yourself so seriously and micro-managing people who may in fact be perfectly capable of doing their jobs without your micro-management? Sometimes we simply stand in our own way, and I think that many of those times, it comes out of taking ourselves too seriously.

    The Internet is full of people who take themselves too seriously. Just look around. You don’t have to wander far to find people arguing on someone’s Facebook wall or arguing in the comments section of a blog and so on. And that leads us to the #1 problem for a person who takes himself or herself too seriously:

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    You’re not open to advice, differing perspectives, or opposing opinions.

    That might be okay if you’re the world’s leading authority on the subject matter in which you take so seriously, or even if you’re merely a renowned expert or perhaps an author on the subject. Let’s say, you know, just for the sake of argument… that you’re not. Shouldn’t you then be open to advice from those who are? What makes you think that you know better than them? For that matter, shouldn’t you be willing to listen to, acknowledge, and respect others’ opinions and perspectives?

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    Of course you should, but that’s a pretty tough thing to do when you take yourself too seriously that you’re arguing with someone in the comments section of a video on YouTube. And let’s not even talk about that Twitter war you had last week with the guy who said that Avatar is a terrible movie.

    Think about conversations that you hear every day. A person is having a conversation about how delicious a new recipe that they tried last night was when in walks Mrs. Know-It-All, who immediately dismisses that recipe and offers up one that is “much better” which (of course) she also claims that she created (one simple Google search will probably prove that to be a fallacy).

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    Or the mild-mannered man excitedly telling a co-worker that he bowled 147 the night before, when suddenly Mr. Quasi-Alpha Male of the office loudly intrudes on the conversation to announce that he bowled 300 two nights in a row last summer (a story that everyone in the office has now heard at least a dozen times, and naturally, there are no witnesses). Everybody knows that guy. He’s the 40-something who was bald on top by age 28 with a beer gut the size of Texas who will bet you his mobile home and his ’89 Ford Mustang that he’s still the best athlete in town (nothing personal, Mr. Quasi-Alpha Male – you have a special place in, er…our hearts).

    On one hand, it can be challenging to be passionate about something without taking it so seriously that you turn into one of the villainous people in the above examples. On the other hand, look at how those people come off. Do you really want to be like them?

    If not, then I highly suggest that you take a close look at yourself and determine any areas in which you could be potentially taking yourself too seriously. When you isolate those areas, learn to lighten up over those things lest you behave like Mrs. Know-It-All or Mr. Quasi-Alpha Male the next time one of those topics comes up.

    (Photo credit: One Man with Two Faces in the Mirror via Shutterstock)

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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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