Today I was coaching a business leader who said she struggled in balancing passion for an idea, with the proper emotion to express while communicating the idea. As we talked and I asked probing questions, my thoughts circled around Don Miguel Ruiz’s “Four Agreements” (from a book of the same title) and Ruiz’s suggestion for one to decide for himself, “Don’t take anything personally.”
 
This was a turning point in our coaching conversation, because as simple as this suggestion might sound it is extremely difficult to implement with consistency (at home as well as at work). Each day, most of us expend enormous amounts of energy seeking to properly determine how to interpret someone else’s comments, questions or body language. Often we make the mistake of putting our very personhood on the line when facing a challenge of some sort, rather than objectively seeing the situation for what it is and assuming the best intentions of another.
 
From my perspective, this particular “agreement” is a key to the kingdom of emotional intelligence (or EQ for short). The intentional, disciplined practice of not being cut to the heart by someone else’s well-intended—or even harmfully-intended—words frees up this energy to devote toward serving others well and accomplishing meaningful, personal goals.
 
Strive to pay more attention to how you are filtering any sort of feedback flowing into your consciousness at this moment. Are you devastated by it, to the extent where your goals and strategies fly out the window as you squat into survival mode? Or are you learning to de-personalize it so you can focus like a laser on the issue at hand, and calmly turn problems into successes by leveraging your core strengths?

John M. DeMarco is a writer, strategist, and executive coach based in Nashville, Tennessee.