Sense & Sensitivity

Reader Can't Stand Client's Unnecessary Criticism

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have periodic calls with one of my clients right before we activate a project, and I dread the conversation every time. Like clockwork, she finds a way to berate me right before we start going over details of the project.

This last conversation, I was not able to turn the other cheek. She insinuated that I never follow up on the pointers she shares with me, so it seems like a waste of time for her to give them. That is patently untrue. I take copious notes and do my best to incorporate all the input she shares.

Her blanket comments make it seem like I don’t pay attention and don’t respect her. I stood up for myself this time and said, “I take offense to that statement. I do listen and incorporate your input.” Her immediate response was to tell me I shouldn’t take offense. We went back and forth a few more times until I said, “Let’s just move on,” because she wouldn’t back down.

I’m not sure how to handle this. Constantly being put down and told I do a horrible job when it isn’t true is hard for me. Standing up for myself doesn’t seem to register to her as anything but annoyance. I hate this job, but I also need it. How can I survive? -- Constantly Put Down

DEAR CONSTANTLY PUT DOWN: Being browbeaten over and over again can wear on your spirit. On one hand, it is important to be able to work and earn money to put food on the table. On the other, you have to be careful not to destroy your spirit.

Occasionally standing up for yourself -- as you did -- making it known that you are a professional and that you do follow her guidelines is fine. But you also have to accept that if this is how this woman behaves, you are not going to be able to change it. At some point, you will either need to actively seek another job and leave or find a way to deflect her comments without fighting with her about them. For your spirit’s sake, I suggest that you look for a new gig.

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