A few weeks ago I was meeting a friend for dinner in a relatively busy part of town. All of the parking for the restaurant was full (not surprising if you’ve ever tried to visit certain parts of Nashville), so I decided to park down the street in an empty bank lot. It was after hours, and the bank had been closed for a couple of hours. As I was getting out of my car, an older gentleman yelled at me from across the street. “YOU CAN’T PARK THERE! THAT’S FOR BANK CUSTOMERS ONLY!”
Respectfully, I tried to communicate that I recognized the rule, but people parked in the lot all the time after bank hours.
Advice for Responding to Difficult People
As Millennials, we bring a different perspective to the table when it comes to achieving the goals and objectives our organization is trying to accomplish. Sometimes our ideas are good. Sometimes they’re not grounded in reality.
Either way, one of the most challenging situations Millennials can find ourselves in happens when we are being “yelled at” from across the street from older people we work alongside.
- “YOU’RE NOT EXPERIENCED ENOUGH TO OWN THAT!”
- “WE’VE ALWAYS DONE IT THIS WAY!”
- “YOUR IDEA IS TOO IDEALISTIC!”
While this feedback might not be verbalized, it’s really what our co-workers mean. In situations like this, it’s important for Millennials to remember two things:
- The other person might be right. Older employees do have more experience than you. They’ve had the opportunity to see what works and what doesn’t. Many times, their hesitation to your idea comes from a good place… even if they don’t express it in the best way.
- Some people are just difficult to work with. This is another truth about work. There are some people, no matter how much you try to build a relationship with them, will always be difficult to work with. They prefer being roadblocks rather than bridge builders.
Taking the time to step back and remember these two principles will help you get a healthier perspective on how to move forward and go a long way in improving the overall relationships you have with co-workers.
3 Ways Millennials Can Respond to Criticism from Difficult People in the Workplace
When those situations arise, there are three steps we can take that I learned from my parking lot experience.
1) Reassess your idea. Criticism isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Even though I faced opposition, I reconsidered whether or not I should stay parked in the lot. When opposition arises, take time to reassess your idea. Continue to poke holes in it. If it still holds up after you’ve considered the feedback, take the next step.
2) Respond respectfully. How you respond pays huge dividends, not only for the specific relationship but for your reputation within the organization. This is a chance to communicate your thoughts while still respecting those who think they know better. Stand your ground, but do so in humility.
3) Move on. After talking with the man, I had two options: re-park my car or move on. You have the same option. Once you’ve reassessed the idea and respectfully responded, you can either carry out your vision or abandon your strategy and move on.
Working through these three steps will help you get a lot further than if you blow up or give up. In the end, my car didn’t get towed. And you can set yourself apart by creating a new product, solving a problem, or creating a new system for the way things are done.
Photo by Raban Haaijk on Unsplash
Join the Conversation
How Should Millennials Respond to Difficult People in the Workplace?