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Nice Is the New Black: How to Handle Criticsm from the Next Cubicle

Spring has sprung, ladies!

However, one downside of spring fever (aside from the lingering rain since I live in the seasonless locale of Seattle) is the negative pent-up energy that may be hovering above your head like a cartoon cloud. For me and anyone who lives in the Northwest, one gray day after another combined with the need for some serious vitamin D, is the reason I cite for unpleasant behavior between coworkers, bosses, and even close colleagues to spring up from time to time.

But no matter where or whom you work with, you may have realized that whether it is a new season or smack-dab in the middle of a long week, criticism seems to be a language spoken quite often, and one that you are quite tired of having to field.

This can be especially true of us women in our places of work. As women, we have such an amazing ability to empathize with one another, but we also have the power to hurt others with our words if we don’t choose them carefully.

So whether you love your office family all year-round or have found yourself recently battling it out with the chica in the next cubicle, here are a few tips on how to do some “spring-cleaning” to pave the way for a brighter (and warmer) work environment!

Remove sarcasm from your tone of voice.
I am not going to lie; I love a good sarcastic joke, but save it for Margarita Monday with your girlfriends. Why? Not everyone holds a penchant for the well-timed put-down and can take serious offense. So in a work environment try to say what you mean without being mean. Don’t ask rhetorical questions or respond to criticism with a sarcastic sideswipe—instead, gather your thoughts and manage your emotions. This will keep the professional in professionalism intact.

Throw away personal vendettas.
Let’s be honest. No matter if it is at work, at your Pure Barre class, or at happy hour, there is always bound to be one girl that rubs you the wrong way. With so many different personalities, it is nearly impossible to get along with everyone. But just because one girl seems to be more of a thorn in your side than the next, don’t simply waive her right to have an opinion because you don’t care for her.

Instead of squashing the girl that gets under your skin, let her offer her opinions. If that means listening to her suggestions on how to make the monthly presentation better or how she really feels about the new marketing campaign, then do just that with an open mind.

Dust off your dancing shoes.
Blowing off steam when you are off-duty is key to making your “work self” a better one. Make sure you carve out time for fun after-hours. If that means taking a salsa class, painting pottery, or joining a running group—you must make time for you. Work is a part of your life, not your entire life. So don’t give it the power to affect your off-the-clock emotions.

As the author of Bitch? Please! How Nice Girls Can Succeed in a Bitch’s World, and having been a publicist for several years, I completely understand that emotions can run high when you are working in close proximity to your colleagues. So while these may just be a few of my own tips to help you get through your day to day without losing your cool, feel free to come up with your own creative ways to bring “nice” back into the workplace one day at a time.

Besides, who needs sun when you have a sunny disposition, right? Um … okay, maybe that’s taking it a bit far.