What is a “Thick Skin”? We have all heard the term or something like it, it’s basically the ability to take shit from people and not react. That’s the simplest example, but what is lost in that simplicity is the nuances to a thick skin. There are levels of course, if I say something to you and your mother says something to you your reaction is going to be different. Being able to brush aside what people say is a fantastic skill and If you can garner any measure of it you will be better for it.

How do you develop it though? How do you obtain a thick skin, or thicker skin? This won’t be a long post because I only have one really good trick for you to work on. There may be more out there but this is the one I use and its worked out very well.

Make a list of the people in your life outside of work. Friends, Family, Children, Spouse. I don’t mean distant cousins you have talked to in 10 years I’m talking about the people who you interact with or talk to regularly. You have the list? What is it 20 people? Maybe 30 (don’t stretch here). Now look at that list and put an X in front of people you don’t talk to at least once a month.

It’s okay to be sensitive about what people say.

Few names? Okay, now put an X in front of the people who you really don’t like. Remember this list isn’t meant to be just people you like it’s a list of people outside of work you deal with in your personal life. Few more names with an X? Now put a check mark next to the people who are the following:

  • Spouse

  • Children

  • Parents

  • Grand Parents

  • Siblings

How many people are left that don’t have an X or a check mark? These should be your “friends and acquaintances” For those pick your 2 best friends and put a check mark next to their names everyone else put an X.

I know this is dragging on, we’re almost done. Re-write the list with only the people who have a check mark next to their name and keep that list near where you sleep. The exercise of creating the list only has to be done once. The easy trick – Before you go to bed every night, ideally right before sleep read the list and repeat this as many times as you can as you read each name “These are the people I love the most in the world, they are the ones that matter the most”.

Over time you will care less about what people not on the list think and say, and your skin will be thicker.

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