Wednesday, December 23, 2020

My Christmas gift to you. The Q-TIP principle

We're living in difficult times when, some days, hope and happiness can be a struggle. On those days, I'm reminded of one of the most helpful seminars I took during my working career, the Q-TIP principle. Q-TIP stands for Quit Taking It Personally.

There are so many examples of this that I can share, beginning with a coworker who thought everything that happened somehow revolved around her. Instead of celebrating someone else's successes, she could only see how she'd been slighted as a result, which was never the case. She took EVERYTHING personally.

Years ago, I was asked to videotape "insights" at a family reunion. I'm an introvert by nature, even at a family reunion. I'm a "one-on-one" type of person, so approaching everyone, even family, wasn't necessarily inside my comfort zone, but hey, it was family. So I did. At the end of the day, I said something along the lines of "I think I got everyone." I hadn't. What I should have said, maybe, was "did I get everyone?" The one person I missed was one of the people I've always been closest to. That person was offended. I wasn't keeping a tally of the 50 or so people I'd been circulating among, and that one person thought I'd intentionally overlooked them. Rather than saying, "Hey, you missed me," that person said "I'd like to say something," and proceeded to add not one taped comment, but two (and maybe three, I don't remember now--I was mortified by what they said. On tape). I didn't know how to respond. How could that person think I'd intentionally overlooked them? Our relationship hasn't been the same since. I feel bad about that, and I don't know how to fix it. It wasn't intentional, it wasn't personal, and yet that person had taken it as such.

I make mistakes.

I sent out a Christmas letter and apparently missed stuffing one of the envelopes. Got a call from my sister-in-law who asked how come her sister got a letter and she didn't. Heck if I know! But the point here is she asked about it rather than choosing to be offended that she'd been overlooked. I MEANT to send her a letter, but obviously I goofed. I hate it when that happens! She DIDN'T take it personally (for which I am grateful).

I recently got some good news, but in this day of COVID, I was momentarily taken aback about how it was presented. I'm not one to speak up, so I "suffered in silence" and reminded myself this wasn't about me. I talked to someone else who had been present at the time and took the most round about way I could to ask if this wasn't "odd." The interpretation from that person helped me put things in perspective, along with the Q-TIP principle. With an "outside" view of what happened, I stopped taking it personally. I can rejoin the celebration.

We have a lot of things to fret about in the world these days without adding hurt feelings to the mix, feelings that most likely weren't intentionally trod upon. Sometimes people are having a bad day and they lash out - it has nothing to do with you, but with their bad day. As my mother once told me, sometimes people don't react the way you want them to or expect them to. Sometimes people make mistakes (*raises hand*). All right, sometimes it is intentional, so the question you need to ask yourself is "why would they intentionally do that?" If the answer is, "I don't know," then chances are good that whatever happened wasn't meant to offend.

We could go deep into the psychology of all of this, the triggers and catalysts and all of that, but at the end of the day, our response is what matters. In a world where some people are only seeing how everything affects them (WEAR A MASK), my advice is to remember the Q-TIP principle. Quit taking it personally. We're all in this life together, and if we have some empathy for what other people are going through, we stand a better chance of holding onto hope and happiness.


  1. Right now, I've got malicious trolls on Amazon leaving meaningless reviews. It's probably not "me" per se, they're after, but it is hurting my books' rankings.