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How to Deal With Criticism and Skepticism from Older Professionals

by Ashley on April 7, 2014 · 2 comments

Hello, lovelies! If you’ve ever dealt with criticism from some older peeps, this post is for you. My friend, Kayla Matthews, from Productivity Theory has some super helpful tips to share with you on how to navigate that negativity and skepticism, so keep reading!

how to handle criticism

Hooray! You landed a sweet job and you’re super excited about being one of the up-and-coming professionals in your career field! Your superiors, however, might be a bit skeptical of you. You use all those fancy tech gadgets and know the exact definition of a #hashtag. They do not. Don’t sweat their less-than warm welcome of you, though.

If you’re dealing with a tough crowd at work, you can at least take comfort in knowing you’re not alone. Almost everyone, at some point in time, has to deal with criticism from others. And while you can never control how other people are going to act around you, you can control how you react to their behavior.

Here are a few tips to help you manage skeptical opinions and criticism from your older coworkers:

1. Accept it For What It’s Worth

So your coworkers think you’re nothing more than a fresh-out-of-college kid. So what? Use this as an opportunity to prove just how professional you really are. Take it as a chance to reflect on what you’re doing well and what could be improved. Spend some time conducting an honest assessment of yourself and your work. We should always be trying to better ourselves and if you can channel criticism into an opportunity to improve, then at least some good will come out of it.

2. Kill Them with Kindness

If you’re dealing with someone who is constantly bitter and hateful towards you, consider taking the classic approach of killing them with kindness. This will probably make them feel bad for ever being rude to you in the first place, and if not, at the very least, you can feel good knowing you did the right thing by treating them kindly. Not to mention, you’ll be the more mature one even though you’re actually younger.

3. Stay Focused on What Matters

No matter what reason your coworkers have for treating you with criticism or skepticism, don’t let it distract you from focusing on what’s important. You got hired because your boss probably likes your work ethic, past experiences, and fabulous personality, right? Then don’t let your coworkers get to you! Just be yourself and keep doing your job to the best of your ability. If you’re the manager of the integrated marketing solutions department, dealing with employees who criticize every decision you make can’t get in the way of your work. Don’t let it distract you from your main mission of delivering results for your clients. This will only make you look like a newbie and give your critics more to complain about.

4. Be Open to Feedback

You should be receptive to feedback you get from others, even if it comes off as critical or a little harsh. Take it with a grain of salt, realizing that it’s human nature to have opinions and you will never be able to make everyone happy. Rather than just getting angry, you can remain open to the feedback you’re getting from your coworkers, and acknowledge it with sincerity. This might soften their mood toward you because you’ll be treating them with respect and, at the very least, it gives you some constructive criticism to work off of.

5. Don’t Feel Threatened

The older people in your business bring their own experiences, beliefs, backgrounds and personalities to the table, meaning you will not necessarily agree on every issue that arises. Just because someone doesn’t agree with you and voices his or her disagreement doesn’t mean you should feel threatened. Be grateful for the perspective this person offers but feel free to add in your own perspective as well.

6. Realize That They Might Be the Ones Who Feel Threatened

Oftentimes, when older professionals are critical or overly skeptical of young professional in their industry, it’s because they are actually threatened by you. You graduated from college very recently and so are likely to be much more up-to-date with the latest industry protocols, especially if the company you work for hasn’t implemented all of those practices yet. You’ll look like a pro at using the latest software programs, marketing tools, and smartphone apps, while some of you coworkers may still be trying to figure out what Google Docs is all about. Realize that you have the upper hand, and let your coworkers know that you aren’t trying to steal their salary away from them.

If you’re still struggling with criticism, remember that no one can make everyone happy 100 percent of the time. If that becomes your goal, you will quickly drive yourself crazy. Instead, focus on always doing the right thing, making decisions that are fair and ethical and controlling what you can control. With a little time and practice, you’ll be handling your critics like a pro!

MeKayla Matthews is a 20-something productivity blogger and startup enthusiast. You can read more from her at ProductivityTheory.com or by following her on Twitter and Google+!

Image by Caden Crawford

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Kayli Schattner April 8, 2014 at 4:52 pm

Absolutely love this post, Kayla! Sometimes I feel like older professionals (and potential clients) are judging me based on my age (19) and not all I have to offer (which I think is a heck of a lot!) Age is but a number and it’s not a true testament of what you know, how well you work your biz or all of the incredible services you could potentially offer them!

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Elf Moving Boxes April 9, 2014 at 12:34 pm

This reminds of that Far Side cartoon with the two dogs in front of computer and one says to the other “On the internet, no one knows your a dog”. In a connected environment where results matter, age isn’t that important anymore. A young person might have more technical skills (especially with computers) than an older worker and that can allow you to have gravitas and get respect in your interactions.

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