Assistants are in the firing line on a daily basis – whether it’s from our boss, from other directors, from disgruntled customers/suppliers… And so we are required to have incredibly thick skin and simply rise above any criticism, office angst or negativity.  Easier said than done right?

Being an assistant is awesome… but it’s also tough. We are affected by criticism and we do take things personally sometimes. We’re superstars, but we’re human and the daily office onslaught can get us down and affect our self-esteem.

I’d like to share a few tips that have helped me to deal with this over the years. Do feel free to comment and share your own experiences:

Talk about it

I’ve said this before numerous times, but communication is the key ingredient in any working relationship. If your boss has upset you, it’s always better to talk through any issues. Don’t stew on things in silence. That feeling of angst and resentment will only get stronger. 

Clarify what they meant and, if you can, tell them how it’s made you feel.  Discuss the issue, discuss ways in which you can improve it, and then move on.

If you don’t feel you can discuss it with them, then talk it out with a colleague or someone close to you. Even if you just need to rant about how unreasonable your boss has been that day – let it all out and get it off your chest!


Before getting upset over an irate phone call, a stinker of an email, or a harsh comment from someone, just take a minute.  Focus on your breathing for just a couple of minutes. Focus on nothing else but the air going in and out.  It’s a simple exercise, but it really can help to calm you down and settle your mind.  You’re less likely to have a knee-jerk reaction and do something you might regret!

It’s not personal  

Nine times out of ten, it really isn’t about you.  It’s usually a result of the other person having a bad day, or being stressed, and you’re just in the wrong place at the wrong time.  This is usually the case for assistants – it sucks. But remember, it’s not always about you.

Why has this happened for me?

Sometimes, criticism can be constructive, even if you can’t see it at the time.  Some of my greatest strengths have stemmed from making mistakes and getting it wrong. 

Ask yourself, what can you learn from this? How can this situation empower you? Don’t get stuck in inaction and let it de-rail your day.

F*ck it!

A wise man once said to me, “Sometimes Michelle, you’ve just got to tell them all to f*ck off!” 

Okay so maybe don’t use this one on your boss! But just say it in your head, if only to make yourself smile when they’re just being unreasonably hideous!

More tips to add? I’d love to hear from you! Join our Facebook group at to chat to thousands of other assistants all over the world.  We are in it together!