"It's always personal. We're people." — James McPartland
When we say to someone, "Don't take it personally", we seem to have forgotten that we are speaking to a person with feelings. People pour a large percentage of themselves and their time into their work. It's virtually impossible for it to not be personal.
A set of underlying, yet unasked questions exists in our communication with others, and their communication with us:
Do you see me?
Do you care that I am here?
Am I enough?
Does the way you talk to me communicate that I'm special?
When the silent answers to unasked questions are "yes", the relationship grows stronger, and the work we do with others becomes more meaningful and magnificent. If the answers are "no", we (or they) become disconnected, and both the work and relationship suffer.
Many of us can get by in life and business without connection... temporarily. However, if we want the work and the relationships to thrive, we have to connect. A connection is not based on how much time we spend with someone or what we do with them. A connection is made by being present, and authentically answering the other person's unasked questions-- even if you never knew the questions were being asked.
So let's realize it's always personal. We're people after all.