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“Don’t take this personally, but –”
It doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. It’s a preface to a statement which is obviously going to be not only personal, but intensely so — perhaps even offensively so! What does someone even mean when s/he utters such an inane statement? Almost like it’s an attempt to qualify whatever follows as eligible to pass for perfectly a-okay conversation.
Yet, what follows is almost always not a-okay conversation.
Usually it’s mean, unsolicited advice. Or cruel gossip that the narrator is quite obviously enjoying passing on. Think about it. What normally comes next?
Red Alert. Halitosis approaching head on. Shields Up.
“Don’t take the personally, but –
your breath really stinks.”
I hope if I need to tell someone this little nugget of news, s/he decides to take it very personally. Cuz if I gotta say it out loud, then that means your airflow is really seriously rank. So in a case like this, it would probably be better just to say it plain: “I don’t mean to be offensive, but I thought you’d want to know that your breath is a bit strong from lunch. I have some gum though – here! I’ll chew some too, cuz I’m betting my breath is just as bad!”
Red Alert. Boredom eminent. First officer to engineering.
“Don’t take this personally, but –
I have no idea what you’ve been talking about for the last 20 minutes, cuz I spaced out like five minutes in.”
This is extremely personal! I mean, I know I talk a lot, so I’m pretty good at noting the dull sheen that begins to coat my audience’s eyes quite often. And I’m also fairly adept at ignoring the body language you’re talking at me: the gaze over my shoulder, the persistent interruptions, the blowing me off mid-sentence followed by my struggle to continue the conversation (“Anyway… now where was I?”). Yeah. You are stupid if you think you have me fooled. I get you loud and clear. I just don’t care. I wanna say my piece. Just. That. Bad. So I soldier on, and fight for my voice to carry through the battlefield of other warrior conversationalists. I seriously have a lot to say, and sometimes it’s the saying of it that matters, more than the reception on my listener’s end. As long as we both play along like you’re interested (when you’re so clearly not) and like I might be reaching a point, we’re good. But when you call out my boring-ness, it’s all over for you. Because that, my friend, is personal.
Red Alert. Shitty singing voice probing life support systems. All hands on deck.
“Don’t take this personally, but –
you really can’t carry a tune!”
the fact that my mode of communication, the air which bellows from my mouth, the tone of my words, sucks balls? How can you reconcile this? Of course it’s personal! I love singing, and you just told me I’m a loser at what I love to do! My voice – golly, it’s really, really personal, people. Are you getting me yet?
You must not know what PERSONALLY actually means.
Maybe I need to be more clear. Maybe you don’t truly understand the definition of the word “personally”. Allow me to define it for you herein.
Personally: as if intended for or directed at one’s own person. adverb.
So when you make a comment on my inability to get to the point, or my toxic breath, or my abusive voice, you are indeed directing something at me, intended for my own person. You don’t offer up a complaint without hoping I’ll fix my flaw, right? You are totally telling me in hopes that I change my naughty ways.
built out of cruel words; you may paint cute little kittens on the bottom in hopes that I fail to notice the potential danger, but don’t act all shocked when I see through the disguise and write “return to sender” on the explosive material.
Folks, have I mentioned that I’m not an idiot?
Telling me to not take something personally is a hint to indeed take personally that which follows. You are about to tell me exactly how much I suck. If it involves me in any way whatsoever, be it my appearance, my actions, my personality, then it’s all personal. Thanks. You suck too! The difference between me and you: I don’t care if you take it personally or not, cuz I’m just gonna keep on singing my boring song with my stank-breath. Deal.
Taking things personally can mean emotional maturity.
But you know what? Maybe if more people *DID* take things personally, there would be more kindness in the world. Think about it. If your boss tells you something was completed incorrectly, taking that information personally would mean trying to get it right, next time around. If an editor tells you a section needs to be changed or cut altogether, taking that advice personally would mean improving your work. Let’s be better, try harder, do more, and continue growing. let’s care.
Let’s take *EVERYTHING* personally.
Who’s on board with this plan?
***DISCLAIMER: This post is “from the vault”. My Bloggy-Blog recently crashed. This was an item we were able to save thanks to the Black Box we recovered from the wreckage. There will be more items along this line as we salvage more survivors. ***