It is always hard to keep calm when you get an unexpected reaction to your work. We all like to be praised, we try to agree with constructive criticism. However, we tend to explode when the reaction feels like a personal attack to us.
For example, imagine that you are a designer. You’ve done your absolute best (and even more!) with a task you had been given. You are happy with the result. Nevertheless, one of the programmers says that your solution is bad for user experience and he is not going to code it. What’s more, he even points out that the font is kinda bad-looking. All of this while being incredibly rude to you. You think that this situation undermines your credibility because what’s being criticized is your skill as a designer. How do you deal with something like this?
I have a checklist that helps me not to start a cold war.
1) Do not answer immediately.
In every situation like this, you should take your time to calm down. Even if you think you are not angry or if you believe an immediate response will help, don’t. You are more likely to make a huge mistake when you rush things. After taking some time to think about it, you’ll be ready to plan your next move.
2) Show some empathy.
There is always a chance that you don’t know all the factors that influence the problem. Ask yourself why your opponent’s behavior is the way it is. Does your colleague dislike you personally? Or perhaps there is something else that is bothering him? Maybe he is hurting inside and it may just be not about you. Maybe, he doesn’t want to keep constantly redoing his work because you keep changing your mind about the layout. He has deadlines, just like you do. What if the option you’re suggesting will make him fall behind schedule? He might even be having some personal problems, who knows? Try to understand what’s going on.
3) Take a step back.
We should sometimes forget about our ambitions and look at our work in a different way. Is yours the best solution that takes into account all possible aspects? However, it may be useful to ask your critic what solution he can offer. You will see if he really has one or if it is just them venting it out on you.
4) Look outside the box.
It sounds strange but you should get creative with this situation. Try looking at the whole situation as a challenge. What inputs do you have? What result do you want to achieve? What strategy can you adopt? Such questions help to keep your head cool and avoid a response that might be too impulsive.
5) Keep your eyes on the goal.
What do you want to achieve at the end of the day, week, year, etc.? You should return to your broad objectives more often. For example, you want to show your leadership skills and get a promotion. Or perhaps you want to be a professional and show that you are able to handle any challenges that you face. Or you may just want to finish that task as soon as possible because the next one is more interesting for you. Stay professional. You have a task to perform, a job to do. Do you really want this issue to steer you away from that goal? no! Do your best and reach for your dreams.
6) Ask for a constructive feedback.
If you see that your opponent really isn’t being fair to you, tell him about it in a proper way. You have to write down some points before your conversation: What is happening? How are you feeling about it? What is it leading to problems is it causing? What is your suggestion? Then ask him for a one to one session and tell him about your points. Be constructive, don’t use qualifiers or offensive words. He will see the situation in a different way and he will most likely change his behavior. If this seems too hard for you, ask your manager for help.
Last, but not least:
Keep it simple! In fact, this may not be such a big problem. You can try to respond with a joke. It will help both of you to defuse the situation and be a little less on edge. Sometimes, the problem isn’t worth paying so much attention.
Actually, there are a lot of methods to get out such a conflict with a good outcome. You can come up with your own solution. However, it is more about you keeping a cool head. It will definitely increase your ability to cope with similar challenges in the future. This will improve your soft skills which in turn will help you to build a fulfilling career and live a happy life.