I’ve got two packs of Q-Tips (registered trademark, I’m sure) in my office. I got them a dozen years ago and I use them as illustrations to my staff and colleagues several times a year. I pull them out when someone comes into my office with lots of frustration over what is going on (or not happening). I listen and then, as it is warranted, I have the following conversation:

Me: do you know what Q-Tip means? What is stands for?
Friend: no idea (with a completely bewildered look as in, Where the heck is this headed?)
Me: Quit Taking It Personally – QTIP
Friend: oh, cute.
Me: no, really. You, me, we need to separate the personal from the professional. When junk hits the fan, just step back (out of the way) and not let any of it get to you personally. Keep the professional and the personal separate.

About 25 or 30 years ago I read an article in Fortune from which I remember one line: “Attack the problem, not the person.” Too often in work (especially in church work), we merge our professional and personal lives and it often has bad consequences. Too often in work (especially in church work), we try to fix problems by fixing people – also often with bad consequenses.

Church professionals need to separate our personal lives from our professional lives – our spouses will appreciate it! But also realize that when we attack a problem, ensure the person on the other end fully understands this is not about him/her personally.

Buy a pack of Q-Tips. When things get tense in the office, hand out the Q-Tips and remind people that all this professional angst will go away and they don’t need to let it affect their personal lives. It is not an attack on who they are as individuals; it is just a professional issue and should be dealt with professionally.

Oh, one more thing – I’m sure the inventor of Q-Tips never thought of the slogan but I like it nonetheless!

Lead On!