In any walk of life, we have to deal with haters and naysayers. As I share my blogs, worksheets and posts that I hope might motivate and inspire other people in my profession, I receive some wonderful feedback. And then there’s these guys:
“The market is full of administrative advice and much better websites. You won’t get followers. You shouldn’t bother”.
“You are only offering courses so you can steal people’s data and sell it”. (NOT true BTW)
“Your stuff used to be good but you’ve got boring, lol”.
“Your blogs are full of spelling mistakes” (Some UK spellings are different to the US guys!)
“EAs have their own tools, why would they need anything you have to offer”
“You should rename yourself ‘upyourownarseangels’”.
When I first started out 6 months ago, some of these comments really upset me (except for the last one… that was worth a giggle). I had worked so hard on something, only to have someone else trample all over it. Then I gave myself a talking to. We will always face some form of criticism – either at work or at home. Nobody is perfect.
As an Executive Assistant, I have experienced many years in the firing line in some stress-filled environments. I pride myself on having very thick skin and on having developed a degree of assertiveness. As a high-level assistant, you have to be able to cope with this and respond appropriately.
Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years:
- Don’t let someone else influence your mood. Sounds easy to say right? We have all had days where we’ve received a rude email, an irate phone call, or been on the receiving end of someone’s rant. And then it’s completely ruined our day and our interactions with other people, which then potentially ruins their day too. These annoyances on your screen or noises in your ear are exactly that – nothing more. It’s how you perceive them that matters. This comes down to having a tough mindset – by allowing it to bother you, you’re allowing it to control you. Take a deep breath, rise above it and walk away from your desk for a quick break if you need to.
- Be cool. My excellent colleague Charlotte never fails to amaze me with her ability to remain as cool as a cucumber. Whatever is thrown her way, she doesn’t flinch. I asked her once how she manages this. She remarked that it is not worth her time arguing the toss with her boss over something menial, she knows she is right. I loved this. Know yourself, know your work is excellent and don’t waste your time getting agitated.
- Write it out. There are occasionally those days when your boss is just being unreasonably hideous. I used to get home and write out exactly how they made me feel. Don’t hold back, get it all out. Top tip – put on some angry rock music whilst writing. But… DO NOT SEND! This is you getting everything off your chest so you’re not carrying any resentment with you the next day into work. Try it – it really does work!
- It isn’t about you. It sounds cliché, but it’s not about you, it’s generally about them. Someone that can only see negative things or write negative things is in their own little negative world. Who knows what’s going on for them. For some of the haters above, the chance to be keyboard warriors makes them feel better for 30 seconds. Are they doing anything good for their profession? No. Are they encouraging people? No. For your boss or co-workers, the stress of their significant workload is too much and you’re just in the firing line. Whatever. The majority of the time it’s not your fault. And when it is, fess up, put it right and move on.
- Know when to fight back. There are occasions when you have to stand your ground. Know when to pick your battles though and always do it calmly and assertively. People will respect you more. And hey if the comments are via social media like mine, just block them!
- See the positive. Of course, constructive feedback can be positive when it is fair and it teaches you something. It might be that the person wants you to improve your performance, which can only be a good thing.