When I was younger, I was finding difficulty in something that was beginning to affect my work efficiency. After trying to find a solution myself, I consulted the Human Resources Department. You would almost expect that a “how to deal with judgemental colleagues at work” article would begin with HR. Unfortunately, in this case, not for the reason you would expect.
What started as me asking for advice and a solution turned into a difficult situation, as the director chose instead to focus on how much younger I was than other colleagues, and that I should simply be grateful to have any difficulties in my job, considering how many people within my age group and demographic were having difficulty finding jobs in the first place. This individual did not seem to know what my background or skillset was, and decided to create a barrier before I even mentioned details.
At the time, I felt disappointed and trapped. I had no solution to my dilemma, and I felt conflicted because yes, I was appreciative that I had a job. Additionally, I felt that the director did not grasp my profile even slightly, as I had spent many focused years crafting my skills to insure that I was unique and hireable, even freelancing occasionally as early as my adolescence.
The reason I am telling you this, is because this can happen to anyone. Anyone at any point for any reason, can look at you and tell you what they think you are. The difference is that it might not always be who and what you are. And this is why I am writing on how to deal with judgemental colleagues at work. With a reported 50% of Canadians feeling unhappy with their current roles, I often wonder how colleague dynamics impact this number.
As someone who moved into management and corporate roles at an early age, I was often typed and categorized by some of the people I worked with or the clients I interacted with. As mentioned in another article I wrote, I was mistaken as an intern, receptionist or an assistant dozens of times, as though I couldn’t possibly be present in the boardroom. On occasion, I received backlash when overseeing people that were much older than me. But I can tell you that I am not special in this regard, as I would be naïve to think that my experience is unique. Almost everyone gets stereotyped or categorized at some point within their experiences, whether its within their career or personal life. Situations will also vary in intensity. However what matters is how you feel about those situations, and what you are comfortable with in your life.
The important thing to consider is whether you will let that define you. Whether you will sit down and internalize what people say about you. And whether you decide to accept what people say about you, or decide that you are what you define yourself to be. If there is one thing I can express to you about how to deal with judgemental colleagues at work, just look past it and do what is best for the work you are doing, as well as your health.
One of my flaws growing up was always wanting to be understood. I didn’t enjoy being typed, no one does. I would become weaker to the idea that people would have the wrong assessment of me. I would actually try to correct this when possible. But that is not my job. Especially when I can spend that time becoming better at what I do, and becoming a better individual in general. I don’t have time to convince people of who I really am, or what my track record is. And if you have to actually spend a lot of time to convince someone as to why you’re great, they’re not worth it.
My advice is let people think what they want. Really though, let them. Let them live their judgemental, ignorant lives knowing little about who you are and what you will achieve. Go on, and do great things instead. Perhaps even develop your skills for your next project or move. Not only is this how to deal with judgemental colleagues at work, but it could also be how to maintain your wellness. How to grow as a professional. How to worry less about what others think. How to exist beyond categorization.
Colleagues do not own you. They do not control you. And they do not determine your worth or ability.