This one is a tough one for me. I suppose it shouldn’t be so tough. It is not like I need constant validation. No. I know who I am and I know that I do good work. However, a pat-on-the-back, every now and then, wouldn’t kill some folks.
I’m sure you have met people like this. Some people are just stingy with the complements. You would think that every positive statement comes right out of their wallet or 401k. Like it takes something away from them. Off the top of my head, I can think of a few people I’ve known: bosses, neighbors, co-workers, relati…, uuh. Yikes, I better stop there. You get the idea.
What makes a person so you cannot please him/her?
- Personality clash – some people just hate your guts. Who knows why. Maybe you remind them of someone bad, or maybe you breathe through your mouth, or your hair is parted on the wrong side, or you love/hate Justin Bieber too much. Who knows? All you know is that this person has a bee in their bonnet with your name on it.
- Bad first impression – They say a first impression is a lasting one. Normally, this doesn’t mean “lasting eternally”. But if someone seems to hate your guts, it can seem like an eternity.
- Very high standards (should not be a problem, but sometimes is) – I have worked with guys who are WAY over everyone’s heads (including mine). Impressing folks like this, might need to be your Everest. Just sayin’.
- Different values stack (Loves Oracle/Java, hates MS/.NET, etc) – Back to the Bieber thing. Some people will pick a topic and make it into their whole life. It is a landmine along your path. If you step on it, boom!
- Feels threatened (by you, or by someone else, but you make it worse) – This one is common, and maybe it makes your ego feel good. However, don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back. A big ego is a big portion of the cause of this problem. You better check yourself or you may become this person. Please don’t.
- Control freak or micro-manager – Believe it or not, people like this, can prosper pretty well, because they tend to be very detail oriented. Have you heard the saying “perfect paranoia is perfect protection”? This person is WAY down that path. Perhaps you have no appreciation for this sort of thing. (Bieber thing again).
- Dissatisfied with self – I have plenty of friends who would like to change themselves, but they are perhaps too stubborn to change. Face it. It is really easy to hate the guts of anyone who makes your struggles seem easy.
So, what can be done about this?
- Probably nothing
- Try to see if you need to apologize for something that you are unaware of. This technique works well for some of my relatives. “I’m sorry cousin Beth-Ann, that I criticized your Crocs. I was out-of-line.” It feels a little demeaning, but it keeps the peace.
- Do the best you can. If your best isn’t good enough, then you can be comfortable knowing you did your best. (However, if you don’t do your best, then you have not earned your comfort)
- Don’t let it get to you. Sometimes, this is just venting. If you are doing the right thing and you have tried to do better, and you are genuinely trying to resolve the conflict, then you deserve to sleep at night. Keep on trying to do the right thing and resolve conflicts in a reasonable manner.
- Self-evaluate – maybe there actually is something that you can do to improve. Assess yourself.
- Perception – maybe you need to advertise for yourself a little more. You might be awesome, but overlooked.
- Set expectations – everyone makes mistakes and has shortcomings. Yes, even you. Remind your critic that you will work on improving, but the critic needs to be realistic too, please. (Don’t forget to use that magic word: please)
Overall, you cannot truly change others. You can only change yourself. The opinion of others can be valuable because you can check yourself against those opinions. However, there are some people whom you just cannot please. Don’t let it ruin your day. Take a deep, cleansing breath. Let it out. “a-a-a-a-h-h”.
Go back to being awesome.