When my manager gave me my last performance review, he scored me high in every technical area but rated me down in interpersonal skills.
One of his comments rankled more than any of the others, partially because I couldn’t defend against it. He said I don’t take criticism well. I disagree, but I know if I say that, I make his point for him.
Here’s the truth, I don’t mind valid criticism, but don’t feel I need to accept criticism coming from those who don’t know what they’re talking about, which are most of my coworkers, including my manager. I’m a highly skilled IT professional and they’re not and so can’t judge me.
I’m tasked with working our company’s help desk. My coworkers expect “quick fixes.” They hold me responsible for everything that goes wrong on their PC’s, even when the problem arises from something stupid they’ve done. According to my manager, a lot of these end users complain that I argue with and insult them. He says I need to listen to these end user comments, even when they’re wrong, and “take them without reacting.”
How do I stand up for myself?
Here’s how you stand up for yourself – drop your attitude, toughen your skin and become the hero/heroine.
Drop the attitude
As an IT professional, you tackle what we non-technological individuals view as insurmountably difficult garble and chart a path to a solution. For you, these challenges are second nature.
You need to stop letting us know you consider us inferior beings. Technological proficiency doesn’t make you a better human; it makes you a technically proficient professional. If you judge us according to a techno-savvy yardstick, can you blame us when we judge you according to an interpersonal skills-yardstick?
Toughen your skin
Highly skilled, technologically adept ‘help” desk professionals interact daily with those of us who expect our computers to operate without pause. When our computers malfunction, we experience withdrawal and want the problem solved yesterday.
Don’t let our voiced impatience get under your skin, but hear it as static resulting from frustration over daunting (to us) technological problems – ones you can fix.
Here’s how -- if an end user says “I tried what you said and it didn’t work,” say “walk me through what happened when you tried it.” By asking questions, you position yourself as our ally or coach, and when you solve the problem, you become our hero.
Stand up for yourself. Be the hero.
© 2017, Lynne Curry. If you'd like an answer to your career question, it's easy. Write firstname.lastname@example.org. Lynne authored Beating the Workplace Bully (AMACOM, 2016) and Solutions. You can also follow Lynne@lynnecurry10 on twitter or access her other posts on SheKnows, www.workplacecoachblog.com or www.bullywhisperer.com.
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