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Don't Make it About What You Did


As many of us do, I sometimes bring my work home with me or better stated, part of my day sticks to my clothes and I track it into the house. When our spouse or partner asks, “How was your day?” we seem to think that is the opportunity to unload all the things that we’ve carried around with us throughout the day. Sometimes, they don’t even have the opportunity to ask before we open up and dump all the frustration that’s sitting on our shoulders in the middle of the floor like a pile of dirty clothes and expect them to clean it up as we walk away.


We have all had one of those associates that just seems to get the better of us and pushes us to the very end of our limits. As much as we would like to help these associates find other opportunities, sometimes eliminating a problem is not that easy. While we know that it would be best for the operation to just remove the problem, as professionals we have a responsibility to provide every associate the same level of training, opportunity, and coaching and ensure we follow the same disciplinary action steps with every associate.


I too have had such an associate who was becoming a bigger challenge each day and I was going home more frustrated than the day before. The lack of performance of this associate became demotivating to the rest of the team, creating tension and a difficult work environment.


Understanding my frustration and tired of hearing me talk about it, my wife gave me some simple advice that has helped more than any other comment anyone has ever shared with me. She simply stated, “Continue to document the situation and be professional,” and then she said the seven most insightful words that I now share with all of my managers, “Don’t make it about what you did.”


“Don’t make it about what you did’ simply means, do not allow the associate to frustrate you to the point where your actions and comments become the issue.

When we allow associates to get the better of us, we jeopardize our careers and reputations and risk losing the respect of other associates because of our actions. Additionally, we give the associate the power they are looking for by having them see that we have allowed ourselves to become aggravated and frustrated by their behavior.


When we allow our emotions to get the better of us and we make it about what we did, we place our careers on the line by behaving in a non-professional manner that makes others question our ability as a leader and potentially putting ourselves in a position to be disciplined or even worse, terminated.

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