Don’t Take This Personally But…

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Don’t Take This Personally But…

Don't Take This Personally But - Sassy Townhouse Living

Those resounding words – don’t take this personally. Have you ever had someone say that to you? Well, I have at one time or another, and if you ask me, it was one time too many.  You know when you hear those words, it’s never going to be a good thing. Whenever someone starts a sentence with them, I take a deep breath because I know I’m in for a long ride of pissing me off!

Not only have I heard those words directed at me, but I’ve also heard them used many times when people were talking about someone else which pisses me off even more! It didn’t matter if I was working as a cosmetologist or as a director of training, those words hit like a ton of bricks every time. 

Don't Take This Pesonally But

I remember having a conversation with someone close to me, who said the infamous words, don’t take this personally to me during a casual conversation. I believe she was attempting to tell me that I was too sensitive and how I needed to be aware of that and to stop monitoring every word she was saying. After years of being told don’t take this personally here and there from folks, at that moment, I just about had enough! I proceeded to stop her speaking and this is sort of how the rest of the conversation went. 

Her: Well, don’t take this personally but you really need to be less sensitive. You are always analyzing my words and you need to be aware of that and stop being so sensitive. 

Me: Wait one second – well how else am I supposed to take that? You are speaking to me so it is now personal, right?  And you are directing that statement towards me correct? 

Her: Yes, but I didn’t want you to take it personally.

Me: Well how the hell else am I supposed to take it? 

Her: See, this is exactly what I mean. You are too sensitive. 

That conversation was a no winner – full stop! I realized a long time ago to pick my battles and he was one that I chose to not pick. 

When someone says those words to you are they judging you? I feel pretty strongly they are crossing personal boundaries. Even the tone of the phrase, don’t take this personally resonates with a step right inside of your personal space. It sounds utterly condescending. It also puts people in a defensive posture. This phrase creates a negative vibe between the two conversing and can often lead to hurt feelings and resentment. 

Am I being too sensitive? Maybe. Would it have been OK if she told me that I was without using that phrase? Yes, it would have been far more effective. These words make me feel out of sorts and puts me immediately on the defensive and yes I take that personally! 

Now, in business, when you are told, don’t take this personally, it can take on an entirely different meaning. Some folks can interpret that as a blanket statement not meant for you personally literally!

Example: If your reporting manager tells you there is a new policy which means you can’t wear open-toed shoes to work any longer, and upon explaining this new policy, you became upset or displayed a negative reaction to what she was telling you and upon her seeing you upset she said, don’t take it personally because this is a company-wide policy and not directed towards you. I would say that her telling you that would be perfectly acceptable and not be insulting. I would not be offended in the least because it’s really not meant for you personally.

Don't Take This Pesonally But

Bottom line: as we all know, words can and do hurt so be mindful of what you say and how you say them. Next time you say,  “don’t take it personally but” to someone, think about how it comes across to them and if you can get that point across without using that phrase. It can and does sound condescending and if your intent is to truly help or advise them, they just might be hearing the tone in what you are trying to say and not the content. 

And as always, thanks so much for visiting my site and if you like this post Don’t Take This Personally But please subscribe via email below and never miss a post again!

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  1. Carolann , spot on, and the other one which means the same that I often get is “I don’t mean to offend you but” well straight away I know that it is going to offend me! Have a great day, and I mean that personally! lol.

  2. Hi Jennifer, Oh yes! That one too for sure. I guess there are a lot of bitter folks out there who just like spreading their bitterness around lol. and LOL you have a great one too. That was funny!
    Carolann xo

  3. Oh, yes. Ditto “no offense, but…” and “I’m not trying to be picky here, but…” People seem to think these blanket disclaimers mean they can say just about any old thing. People would be wrong.

  4. Agree! I don’t think that phrase should even exist because if you are telling someone something about themselves (usually negative) it’s absolutely going to be personal! That ones just about as bad as following an apology with the word BUT!!

  5. It all seems to go back to “think before you speak,” doesn’t it? On the receiving end of words, it can come off entirely different! I think this is also why I can’t stand texting. Like you said, tone means a lot and you can’t always read the emotion that goes into a typed message. Great post!

  6. Can I just say AMEN! The sister to ‘Don’t take this personally’ is “No Offense but”! Yes I take offense and I take it personally.
    As soon as someone say ‘No Offense but’ and tells me something I try to stop them by saying, “Whatever you are going to say next I will be offended, please try and rephrase your statement.”

  7. Hi Carolann, read your story last night on my mobile and thought it was great. I don’t think people are being oversensitive if being a bit unguarded inserting such a comment into a conversation. Great story, topic, and lesson, thanks for sharing!

  8. I hear ya! “Don’t take this personally” is often used as a verbal get-out-of-jail-free card. I’ve yet to construct the perfect comeback for that phrase, but I’m working on it!

  9. Nothing ever good follows those words. Shake it off…you know who you are. Don’t give people the power to hurt you. Great post, Carolann.

  10. You know you’re in trouble whenever a phrase like that prefaces someone’s words. At that point, it’s time to tune out!

  11. Condenscending, that is the perfect word to describe what I thought as I was first reading along and then you said it. Great article and examples of what to do and what not to do.

  12. I disagree with you. Someone who pauses long enough to say “don’t take this personally” is at least aware that what they are about to say will cause you emotion. Constructive criticism is something that I relish in. If someone cares enough to help me with my work, my character, my blog…even if I choose not to take it to heart. I appreciate that they were willing to take that risk.

  13. You know something bad or hurtful is coming after that phrase and the other phrases people have mentioned above. In business yes, it is slightly different because it really is not personal it is business. But there is a time and place for that. And a casual conversation is not one of them. Thanks for sharing this and your thoughts behind it. Great post!

  14. While I agree with your point, I think that person can say the same exact thing without that phrase. I personally would get so much more out of the constructive criticism without that said. For some reason, it puts me right on the defensive. Thanks much for stopping by!

  15. Hi Lois, yes, if they would have left that statement out I would have gotten so much more out of what they were trying to say without putting me on the defensive. Thanks much for stopping by!

  16. Hi Kelly, that is so true. You are exactly correct. If someone has constructive criticism that’s fine but don’t put me on the defensive trying to get your point across! Thanks much for stopping by.

  17. Hi Peggy, thanks much! I think if someone leaves that statement out and gives you constructive criticism that’s fine, but don’t put me on the defensive before you even say it! Thanks much for stopping by!

  18. Hi Haralee, yes! I hate that one too lol. That’s a great comeback. I have to remember that one! People need to understand they can’t put you on the defensive before trying to give you constructive criticism. Thanks much for stopping by!

  19. Hi Jessica, and yes! I can’t stand texting for the very same reason. The tone is just not there and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to call someone to explain what I meant! Thanks much for stopping by and your insight!

  20. Carolann , spot on, and the other one which means the same that I often get is “I don’t mean to offend you but” well straight away I know that it is going to offend me! Have a great day, and I mean that personally! lol.

  21. Hi Daniela, lol yes exactly! I think people are intentional for sure when they say stuff like that. Glad you liked the post and please do stop back. Have a great rest of the week!

  22. very nice description.This is the perfect word to describe what I thought as I was first reading along and then you said it.you suggest very good points what to do or what not…

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