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How to Take Things Less Personally - Use the Soccer Field Method®

Do you feel quickly offended? Your manager has pointed out mistakes in your presentation, a friend has criticized your unpunctuality or a team member has not responded to your "hello". Such moments can be frustrating, hurtful and annoying.

"Don't take things so personally," people are quick to say. But how exactly do you manage that? It's not really easy to change your attitude or mindset from one day to the other.

With my Soccer Field Method® and a little practice, you can learn to take things less personally and be more balanced and satisfied in your everyday life.

 Blog post on wow to take things less personally with the Soccer Field Method

Why do you take things (too) personally?

One thingt up front: You are not alone in often taking things too personally. As a coach, my coachees often tell me that they struggle with feeling offended. Feedback conversations, team meetings, or a small comment in the coffee break can keep your head spiraling for hours. Especially when we take criticism or feedback negatively and relate it to our person instead of our role or activity, we can feel insecure. Often it also reduces our motivation or simply spoils our mood.

We take things too personally for a variety of reasons. Here is a small list of possible reasons:

  • Low self-esteem

  • Fear of a negative, external perception

  • Insecurity due to past and/or unresolved conflicts

  • Unmet expectations

  • Feeling offended due to criticism and feedback

That's why you should work on it

Taking things very personally often leads to a variety of negative feelings and emotions. In the coaching sessions, my coachees tell me that they are less motivated, feel insecure or are unfocused (e.g. because they think about what has been said or done). It also causes stress. Some feel unbalanced or even excluded from their team or a certain group.

To be more balanced and satisfied in your daily life or your leadership role, it is important to differentiate what has been said. That means: Be aware that your perception has an influence on how you feel.

Let's take a feedback meeting with your manager as an example. Your manager tells you that you should improve your time management. Of course, there are also tips and tricks on how to give feedback effectively and appreciatively (see feedback blog post).

Nevertheless, you can influence how you understand this feedback. If you (un)consciously decide to take this feedback personally and infer things like: "I'm too slow in my job" or "He/she thinks I'm totally disorganized or incompetent", then it quickly leads to insecurity and stress. With such a reaction, you have related the statement to your person instead of your actions in your work role.

For some, negative associations can be an inner driver. For others, such thinking quickly leads to demotivation. However, such feedback should rather lead to professionel development and skill enhancement. Therefore, it is important to see which expressions refer to you as a person and which ones refer to your role/activity. But how do you learn this?

Use the Soccer Field Method®

My self-created Soccer Field Method® can help you not only to take things less personally, but to bring more satisfaction and inner peace into your everyday life. Let's take the example from earliert to understand the Soccer Field Method®.

Laptop with green background and a white football representing the Soccer Field Method from Coco Decrouppe
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Imagine a soccer/footballd field. You are standing in the middle of the field just before the center line. Far behind you is your goal. Opposite you is your manager with whom you are having a feedback session. Your manager is standing on the other side of the field. This means that the center line separates you.

Your manager has just told you that s/he would like you to improve your time management. You can now decide what to focus on: On the content of the statement, how it was said or how it relates to you as a person.

The most important principle of the Soccer Field Method is: You must always stay on your side of the field and all other people stay on the other side (Attention: Different from the real game). This means when your leader gives you feedback, the center line separates you.

By visualizing the center line, you realize that your leader's feedback lies on the other side of the field, not on yours. It shows you that statements of others have nothing to do with you as a person and it is simply an external perception. Unless your leader really attacks you personally and crosses the center line though forbidden, you should not take the fedback personally.

So consciously distance yourself from the statement and reflect WHAT is meant and HOW you want to deal with the feedback. Maybe you then think to yourself: "Right, lately it was hard to pay enough attention to my second project".

Showing the different levels of the Soccer Field Method from Coco Decrouppe

And now?

Try it out the next time you get feedback! Visualize the center line and focus on what the gist of what is being said is. And don't worry: it takes a little practice!

If you feel like learning more about the Soccer Field Method® or coaching. Then feel free to look through my blog. I offer a free get-to-kno call for individual coaching but also for team training.

Stay tuned by subscribing to my newsletter and follow me on LinkedIn. Plus, my new book "The Soccer Field Method®" will be published this year. With this book you can learn simple and effective ways of behavior and thinking and develop yourself in a positive, sustainable and fun way. :)


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