I have two colleagues. Both of them contribute something valuable to our personal and professional relationships. Both of them are good at what they do. Both of them have strong opinions. Both of them feel free to express their opinions. Both of them have direct and bottom-line communication styles. Both of them are task oriented. Both of them have a sarcastic approach to humor.

I respect what both of them “bring to the table.”

That said, one of them can make a statement that I laugh at and accept as a joke. I might even reply with my own humorous sarcasm. The other makes a similar statement, and I take it personally and accept it as criticism. I might even directly challenge why the person said something sarcastic to me.

What’s the difference? Why does one of them bring out a humorous response, but the other brings out a protective response, when they’ve said almost the same thing?

Is it them? Or is it me?

While there are differences in their approaches. There are far more similarities than differences. The similarities make me wonder, “Could I be overly sensitive with one of them? Could I be looking for a reason to take offense?”

I’m not with you every day. I don’t know everything about every interaction you have. I am with me, and I know that sometimes (maybe I should say “often”) the response other people get from me has more to do with my perception and my thinking than it has to do with them.

I know I need to check my thinking about some of the people in my life. I think I need to work on receiving them more openly and less judgmentally so that we experience less conflict, our relationships can move forward, and our business ventures can prosper.

Over the next week, I plan to focus on asking the question “Could it be me?” rather than assuming the problem is with the other person. If you are experiencing regular conflict with one person or finding yourself hurt or offended by that person, I ask you to do the same. Ask yourself: “Could it be me?” and be honest when you answer. Sometimes we need to change our perspective, attitude and how we react to others to avoid conflict.

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