I always wondered what the rationale behind this was and often wondered if people uttering these words think it gives them carte blanche to say whatever they like, not considering the feelings of others.
I think leaders often forget that how they communicate their thoughts will have a huge impact on a person.
The saying "people will forget what you said but never how you made them feel" is so true, but sometimes people also remember what you've said, because of the way in which it was said.
I have recently read a post by Les McKeown (President & CEO of Predictable Success) on things a great leader should never say and I quote the following from him:
Really? You're talking to, let me check...yes, a , about them, their work, their livelihood, their ideas, their sense of competence, their choices, their discretionary effort, their life's work, and you're telling them not to take it ?
How about you give every person who works for you a free pass for a week to make whatever comments they like to your face about what you say, do, or suggest, in whatever terms they wish, so long as they preface it with "Don't take this personally...".
If you don't think the act of working with others is in any way 'personal', perhaps you might be better thinking of a career as, I don't know, a beekeeper, perhaps? They really take things personally.
I can't but agree with this statement and think it is vital to always show respect and courtesy to all those we have the privilege to be working with. Only then will one have a strong team who are willing to put their trust in you.