We have all had challenging situations in life where we have received the advice to “take the high road.”
We intuitively know that we should, we don’t intuitively know how to always travel the road with professionalism and class.
[ctt template=”3″ link=”eGOwD” via=”yes” ]The good news about taking the high road is that there isn’t a lot of traffic up there.[/ctt]
Taking the high road does not necessarily mean to turn the other cheek or ignore what is happening. You need to do the right thing, for the right reason, and do it the right way.
Stop Taking Things Personally. This is good advice for both our personal and professional life.
We need to stop taking things personally. It’s easier to take the high road when you realize it’s not about you.
I was watching a comedy movie recently, and there was a scene which made me laugh because it was very real. It was a scene where the two female characters were sitting chatting over a glass of wine, and one of them was telling the other about her vacation to Paris. She said, “I went on vacation to Paris, and I took lots of pictures.” Her friend replied, “Oh, yes. I saw them on Facebook.” The first character responds (in a slightly offended way), “What do you mean you saw them on Facebook? You didn’t click like on any of them.” Her friend replied, “I saw them. It doesn’t mean I have to click like on them.” “Yes, you do,” she responded. The first character got very upset because her friend didn’t click like on Facebook.
How real was that scene?
Talk about taking that personally! We know that most people take things personally, and the reason we’ve gotten upset in the first place is because we personalize it. If we want to go through life with professionalism and class, we need to realize that most things are not about you. They’re about the other person. Ensure you’re not taking things personally.
There will be times when you take that high road, and it will be challenging for you to bite your tongue. Make sure you bite your tongue. Literally, if not figuratively. Don’t say what’s on the tip of your tongue. It certainly isn’t professional. Sometimes that smart retort feels good in the moment but doesn’t feel good after the fact. If you’re taking the high road, take it in style, and don’t say anything that you might regret.
[ctt template=”3″ link=”zc6oF” via=”yes” ]Bite Your Tongue is good advice when taking the high road.[/ctt]
The third tip is also for those times when you are deciding if you should take the high road or not. You ask yourself, “Am I going to get into this argument with you, or am I going to take that high road?” Obey the 24-hour rule. I teach this in my Dealing with Difficult People and Confrontation Skills workshops.
Instead of reacting to a situation, you respond to a situation. It takes about 24 hours for you to get to a place where you can respond and remove the emotions. 24 hours to find the right thing to say or do. You want to make sure that if you are going to say something, it is the right thing, that you’ve carefully crafted it out, and you’re not speaking in anger.
Sometimes, you’ll get a customer or coworker that is difficult and hard to deal with, and you want to speak your mind in the moment. That’s probably not the high road you should be taking, so make sure you give yourself some time.
The final piece about taking the high road with professionalism and class is not to burn your bridges.
I cannot believe how many people I’ve spoken to that have said to me, “I did something I shouldn’t have done.” They didn’t take the high road. They took the very low road, and they burned that bridge.
You may never have any intentions of working with that person again, or at that company again, but life has a funny way of throwing you at that person over and over again. Make sure you don’t say something that you can never take back; that you do regret. Never burn that bridge.
Taking the high road, and being graceful, and professional, and classy is not accidental. It’s intentional. Intentionally think about what you’re going to say. Intentionally think about when you’re going to say it. Intentionally remove yourself from personal feelings of what’s going on. Intentionally be careful about what you’re doing. Take the high road. I can guarantee you will never regret taking the high road; yet you will regret taking the low road.
Your challenge this week is to find a situation in the past where you did not take the high road, and you do have some regrets, and ask yourself, “If I had that situation to live over again, what would I do differently? How could I take the high road, and now have peace with my actions? And in the future, what can I learn from that?”
Good luck, and keep on the right track this week.