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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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    Last Updated on February 21, 2019

    The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

    The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

    In business, in social relationships, in family… In whatever context conflict is always inevitable, especially when you are in the leader role. This role equals “make decisions for the best of majority” and the remaining are not amused. Conflicts arise.

    Conflicts arise when we want to push for a better quality work but some members want to take a break from work.

    Conflicts arise when we as citizens want more recreational facilities but the Government has to balance the needs to maintain tourism growth.

    Conflicts are literally everywhere.

    Avoiding Conflicts a No-No and Resolving Conflicts a Win-Win

    Avoiding conflicts seem to be a viable option for us. The cruel fact is, it isn’t. Conflicts won’t walk away by themselves. They will, instead, escalate and haunt you back even more when we finally realize that’s no way we can let it be.

    Moreover, avoiding conflicts will eventually intensify the misunderstanding among the involved parties. And the misunderstanding severely hinders open communication which later on the parties tend to keep things secret. This is obviously detrimental to teamwork.

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    Some may view conflicts as the last step before arguments. And they thus leave it aside as if they never happen. This is not true.

    Conflicts are the intersect point between different individuals with different opinions. And this does not necessarily lead to argument.

    Instead, proper handling of conflicts can actually result in a win-win situation – both parties are pleased and allies are gained. A better understanding between each other and future conflicts are less likely to happen.

    The IBR Approach to Resolve Conflicts

    Here, we introduce to you an effective approach to resolve conflicts – the Interest-Based Relational (IBR) approach. The IBR approach was developed by Roger Fisher and William Ury in their 1981 book Getting to Yes. It stresses the importance of the separation between people and their emotions from the problem. Another focus of the approach is to build mutual understanding and respect as they strengthen bonds among parties and can ultimately help resolve conflicts in a harmonious way. The approach suggests a 6-step procedure for conflict resolution:

    Step 1: Prioritize Good Relationships

    How? Before addressing the problem or even starting the discussion, make it clear the conflict can result in a mutual trouble and through subsequent respectful negotiation the conflict can be resolved peacefully. And that brings the best outcome to the whole team by working together.

    Why? It is easy to overlook own cause of the conflict and point the finger to the members with different opinions. With such a mindset, it is likely to blame rather than to listen to the others and fail to acknowledge the problem completely. Such a discussion manner will undermine the good relationships among the members and aggravate the problem.

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    Example: Before discussion, stress that the problem is never one’s complete fault. Everyone is responsible for it. Then, it is important to point out our own involvement in the problem and state clearly we are here to listen to everyone’s opinions rather than accusing others.

    Step 2: People Are NOT the Cause of Problem

    How? State clearly the problem is never one-sided. Collaborative effort is needed. More importantly, note the problem should not be taken personally. We are not making accusations on persons but addressing the problem itself.

    Why? Once things taken personally, everything will go out of control. People will become irrational and neglect others’ opinions. We are then unable to address the problem properly because we cannot grasp a fuller and clearer picture of the problem due to presumption.

    Example: In spite of the confronting opinions, we have to emphasize that the problem is not a result of the persons but probably the different perspectives to view it. So, if we try to look at the problem from the other’s perspective, we may understand why there are varied opinions.

    Step 3: Listen From ALL Stances

    How? Do NOT blame others. It is of utmost importance. Ask for everyone’s opinions. It is important to let everyone feel that they contribute to the discussion. Tell them their involvement is essential to solve the problem and their effort is very much appreciated.

    Why? None wants to be ignored. If one feels neglected, it is very likely for he/she to be aggressive. It is definitely not what we hope to see in a discussion. Acknowledging and being acknowledged are equally important. So, make sure everyone has equal opportunity to express their views. Also, realizing their opinions are not neglected, they will be more receptive to other opinions.

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    Example: A little trick can played here: Invite others to talk first. It is an easy way to let others feel involved and ,more importantly, know their voices are heard. Also, we can show that we are actively listening to them by giving direct eye-contact and nodding. One important to note is that never interrupt anyone. Always let them finish first beforeanother one begins.

    Step 4: Listen Comes First, Talk Follows

    How? Ensure everyone has listened to one another points of view. It can be done by taking turn to speak and leaving the discussion part at last. State once again the problem is nothing personal and no accusation should be made.

    Why? By turn-taking, everyone can finish talking and voices of all sides can be heard indiscriminantly. This can promote willingness to listen to opposing opinions.

    Example: We can prepare pieces of paper with different numbers written on them. Then, ask different members to pick one and talk according to the sequence of the number. After everyone’s finished, advise everyone to use “I” more than “You” in the discussion period to avoid others thinking that it is an accusation.

    Step 5: Understand the Facts, Then Address the Problem

    How? List out ALL the facts first. Ask everyone to tell what they know about the problems.

    Why? Sometimes your facts are unknown to the others while they may know something we don’t. Missing out on these facts could possibly lead to inaccurate capture of the problem. Also, different known facts can lead to different perception of the matter. It also helps everyone better understand the problem and can eventually help reach a solution.

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    Example: While everyone is expressing their own views, ask them to write down everything they know that is true to the problem. As soon as everyone has finished, all facts can be noted and everyone’s understanding of the problem is raised.

    Step 6: Solve the Problem Together

    How? Knowing what everyone’s thinking, it is now time to resolve the conflict. Up to this point, everyone should have understood the problem better. So, it is everyone’s time to suggest some solutions. It is important not to have one giving all the solutions.

    Why? Having everyone suggesting their solutions is important as they will not feel excluded and their opinions are considered. Besides, it may also generate more solutions that can better resolve the conflicts. Everyone will more likely be satisfied with the result.

    Example: After discussion, ask all members to suggest any possible solutions and stress that all solutions are welcomed. State clearly that we are looking for the best outcomes for everyone’s sake rather than battling to win over one another. Then, evaluate all the solutions and pick the one that is in favor of everyone.

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