The Impact of Personalization

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There may be an unseen impact of working from home that many are unaware of. While office doors temporarily closed to keep us safe, our comfort with working together while remote, has increased. Within that, we’re more open to the varied schedules and working styles of our counterparts and we’re all making concessions when necessary.

However, office spaces have played a critical role in everyone’s work experience for generations. Our business cultures have been built upon finding common ground through opposing perspectives. At times this may mean pushing the best ideas forward, or focusing on where momentum currently is, even if the feelings of some become hurt. We all play a role in that collaborative exchange and at times it can become tense and unsettling for all of us. Our office spaces once represented a critical part in that process. They were the neutral ground for these collaborative clashes to take place. Win or lose, agree or disagree, after direction was set, everyone could retreat to their personal refuge, regroup, and prepare for another day. It was an intangible border that allowed us to keep personal and professional separate.

Now, as we attend daily virtual meetings and error on cooperation to keep the peace, we’re more highly focused on the impact of personalization on professionalism. The offset effect is that neutral ground may not always be visible. With living rooms and sunrooms appearing as the backdrop for our collaborative clashes, we’re deeper into each other’s lives than ever before. The positive impact is that there is more care and compassion for the experiences of others. But on the flip side, business is still business and it requires people to take a stance, argue a point, and influence others to back a cause. The result of essential personal advocacy can quickly deepen a divide between people, especially when the lines of engagement are blurred. As such, a deepened sense of personalization can actually become a barrier to progress when we’re not careful to manage caustic emotions or establish neutral ground. For some people, this can create a constant feeling of a mounting affront rather than feeling it’s a collaborative effort.

For this reason, it’s now more important than ever to put emotional intelligence into practice. The ability to manage emotions is typically best learned through experience. In the TED Talk, How Not To Take Things Personally, soccer referee Fredrick Imbo explains why he decided that being at the center of constant verbal assault was his best chance at separating personal from professional. This week, consider how your remote experience has impacted your personal feelings and whether it’s time to build some resilience or extend some neutrality to others.

“There is a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you take nothing personally.”

– Don Miguel Ruiz

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