To be thin skinned is to be sensitive to criticism and slights and unable to ignore them or "let it go." Thin skinned people are quick to take offense and many times will react to others by smearing their reputations, demeaning, diminishing or demoralizing them.
In the fast paced environment in which we live, we find that many of the relationships we have tend to suffer due to the way we deal with various situations.
How you handle each interaction determines whether you create bigger problems or reduce or even eliminate them entirely. It's not what happens to us but how we respond that counts.
Your response does make a difference in the outcome of the interaction, so it's important to consider the probable consequences of your choices. One way to look at this question is to try to determine what you have to gain or lose with each choice you make. Raging back at someone who vents hostility at you, or blaming them for headaches and frustrations they cause won't facilitate communication and cooperation.
In fact blame has an inverse relationship to accountability. Before blaming others, consider "what am I not taking responsibility or accountability for at this moment." In other words, if you asked a colleague to do something for you and they didn't get it done, is there something you didn't do such as giving clear directions or checking up.
Instead, take the time (beforehand if possible) to calculate how someone will react to your response. Will your becoming explosive, vindictive, or rattling off a chain of expletives actually create the outcomes you desire? More likely, these behaviors will escalate the degree of difficulty or even ratchet up the intensity a notch or two.
The key to taking action is to become aware of what is causing the energy-draining dynamics when dealing with others.
Here are 13 questions to ask yourself to toughen up "your skin" and reduce your stress, anxiety, fear and reactions when dealing with other people.
- Am I taking things too personally?
- Am I letting others get to me?
- Am I too self-focused?
- Which behaviors specifically upset me or cause me to react?
- How do I respond to them?
- What might I be doing that may be reinforcing these behaviors?
- How is the person being served by their behavior?
- What do I really want or need from the person that I'm not getting (such as appreciation for my work, understanding my perspectives, or communicating with respect)?
- Does this behavior remind me of other energy-draining relationships I've had and is it repeating those same or similar dynamics?
- What are some of the judgments I've made or continue to make about this person?
- What is within my power to control in this situation?
- What are things beyond my control?
- What steps can I take to make relationships work better and am I willing to take them?
- If the negative behavior continues to be unacceptable, unproductive, and energy-draining, what are my options?
Arnold Sanow, MBA, CSP works with Leaders and Teams to help them Get Along Better with others to improve customer and workplace communication, engagement, retention, relationships, connections and interactions. He is the author of 6 books to include, "Get Along with Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere" and "Present with Power, Punch and Pizzazz." He was recently named by Successful Meetings Magazine as one of the top 5 "best bang for the buck" speakers in the USA and by his peers as one of the top 30 Global Gurus in communication