I’m going to go out on a limb here & say that there will be a situation in your business where you will get hurt whether you call yourself a “sensitive” person or not.
I share a lot of personal content on the blog, on instagram & in person. I also share a lot about my business on all of those platforms. I’m also a sensitive person. And for years I considered that a weakness (my friend Ashley wrote a beautiful instagram post about this very topic!). I care a lot about what people think of me, what they say about me & how I make them feel.
When I took the StrengthFinders 2.0 test, one of my top 5 strengths is Significance. (If you haven’t taken the StrengthFinders 2.0 test, I highly recommend it. I purchased the Kindle book & received a link to take an online test!) Here’s the definition of Significance & it rings so true with how I operate:
“You want to be very significant in the eyes of other people. In the truest sense of the word you want to be recognized. You want to be heard. You want to stand out. You want to be known. In particular, you want to be known and appreciated for the unique strengths you bring. You feel a need to be admired as credible, professional, and successful. Likewise, you want to associate with others who are credible, professional, and successful. And if they aren’t, you will push them to achieve until they are. Or you will move on. An independent spirit, you want your work to be a way of life rather than a job, and in that work you want to be given free rein, the leeway to do things your way. Your yearnings feel intense to you, and you honor those yearnings. And so your life is filled with goals, achievements, or qualifications that you crave.” (Source)
Because of how much I care (and because my business is so “me”), over the last few years there have been several times in my business where I have felt the effects of professional meets personal. There are, in my opinion, 2 main reasons this can happen in our industry:
We’re balancing an array of boss lady hats and we’re human. I think we forget the second part. We all know that when you own a small business you wear a variety of “small business hats”. We also, as humans, wear a lot of “human hats”. We’re constantly juggling both of those roles, and sometimes I feel like I have multiple personalities. I’m Boss Lady Kat, Wife Kat, Friend Kat, Wedding Planner Kat, Speaker Kat and so many more. I take my business very seriously, as I’m sure you do. I put a lot of time & energy into making moves for my company. I have made sacrifices to get to where I am in my business – just like you.
We live in a creative bubble with a very unique industry. Our industry is very close-knit. Even if you’ve never met someone in person, you feel like you know them because of social media. That can be a great thing & it can also make things messy. Because our industry is close knit, feelings are easily intertwined with business & vice versa.
So what do you do when business gets personal & you get hurt? How do you overcome the emotions of the situation & make business-based decisions while staying true to your heart?
Don’t react. Wait.It’s easier to be reactionary. Something happens, we get hurt & we want to retaliate. Maybe we want to retaliate in a negative way – we want to lash out & hurt them the way they hurt us. Or maybe we want to immediately react with all the “I’m sorry’s” an email can hold to quickly put a “band-aid” over the wound. Regardless of which way you lean, I want to urge you to wait. Don’t respond when those feelings are fresh. Don’t respond out of anger, hurt or even sadness. You need to take time to fully understand the situation & your response to it, and here’s how you can do that:
Separate your personal hurt from your professional feelings. During your period of “wait” – before you respond to whatever it is that has caused you hurt – you should use that time to separate your personal hurt from your professional feelings. Remember those multiple personalities? Now is when you need to dig into them. Your the CEO of your company and you’re also a friend. In situations that have crossed that very sticky line, I have responded from both perspectives. In my response to the hurt, I have responded to how this effected me personally while also addressing the professional lines that were crossed. Don’t be afraid to respond to both areas, however try to compartmentalize them & address each one as it’s own concern.
Seek advice from a trusted mentor & friend. Let me be clear: this doesn’t mean gossip. Our industry is smaller than we think & talking about one another in a negative way is never acceptable professional behavior. However I do want to encourage you to seek out a trusted friend & mentor to give you an outsiders perspective on the situation. You are very close to this situation & that means it can be harder to think logically or even play “devil’s advocate” and see the other’s side. Having someone come in & view it from a third party perspective can give you insight on how to continue moving forward. (On a personal level, this person can also then be there to support, pray & encourage you as you move forward!)
Stay true to who you are.I like to say “I just want to go to bed knowing I did all I could”. (Granted stress tends to keep me up, ha!) But if I can go to bed at the end of the day knowing I did all I could & stayed true to my heart, my feelings & my gut, then it will be okay. The truth is, I am going to hurt people in business just like people will hurt me. I am human. I make mistakes. I mess up. I act out in anger, fear & frustration. Others do too. We learn a lot about who we are (and who they are) in times of trial. It’s how we act when things are bad that can make or break our business.
Accept responsibility. Remember what I said on #4 – you will hurt people just like they will hurt you. You are not perfect. You do not have it all together all the time. Pride can be our biggest downfall. I hate admitting that I’m wrong, y’all. I really hate it. I like to do all the things & do all the things well. Yet I can’t. I will make mistakes, I will mess up … even in a situation where I have been hurt! I urge you to step outside of the box & think about what you could have done differently. Accept responsibility for your hand in the situation & move forward with the best of intentions.
Let go. Honesty here: I am terrible with this. I let things fester. I want to talk it out. Then I want to talk it out some more. I think about things that hurt my heart in the stillness of the night, or alone in my car or even in the shower. Learn to let go. Learn to say “This happened and it sucked. But I learned ___ and ____ and now I’m looking forward to what’s to come.” (Another thing I will say about “letting go” – sometimes this means you have to let go of people in your life along with the situation that occurred. Obviously this is specific to each relationship & the type of hurt you feel, however there have been instances in my business where I have had to learn to let go & let God.)
Give Grace.You’re human, remember? Don’t be too hard on yourself. Allow yourself the time & space to feel all the feels (which for me that sometimes me a solid cry over cookie dough – no shame). And continue to give yourself grace as you accept the situation & walk forward in your business & in your relationship.
What do you think? Have you been hurt in business before? How did you respond & move forward?