I need to maintain cordial work relationships with people who may talk harshly. They're not necessarily rude. They just speak their mind and expect that I can handle things professionally - fair enough. But I do easily get stressed out or upset over what someone (especially a superior) says to me.
The prevailing advice is "don't take things personally". But when I try to use this mentality, it quickly shows in my outward demeanour. I appear arrogant or aloof. Basically, I try to think "what you're saying doesn't affect me emotionally" but my brain interprets it as "I don't give a [expletive] what you're saying". That is obviously harmful to my image.
If I feign interest, I start to believe the lie and actually become interested - hence feeling hurt when they say something grating.
How can I appear interested and pay attention to what someone is saying while keeping a healthy emotional distance throughout?