October 24th, 2021

How to Handle People Who Downplay Your Hard Work

A sensitive emotional scenario to navigate is one in which you present something you worked hard on for the public to perceive.

By way of your effort, patience, and time, you’ve created a product, finished a task, or written a masterful piece of poetry. You’ve cut your fingers whilst sanding down the table you made from scratch, you got blisters on your hands from putting up a new fence in your yard, and you downed four cups of coffee whilst writing an important proposal at work.

As you put the final touches on the piece of work you’re about to present to other eyes and perceptions, your confidence is high. It’s high because you know how much effort went into your project. You not only hope, but you expect, others to realize that what you’ve completed, took a lot of effort and hard work.

To your surprise and disappointment however, you’ll find that people are often blind to the effort you put into certain pieces of work. The final product, in their mind, will warrant their unimpressed critiques. They’ll attach their attention to the smallest blemishes, without being privy to their context, whilst disregarding the effort you’ve put into the product as a whole.

This article aims to warn you about this volatile time from your perspective. It becomes easy to act out with emotion during times in which people critique your hard work. The more effort you put into a certain piece of work, the harder it will be to remain unhinged in the face of others criticizing that work. In addition to warning you about these instances above, this article will go on to present a pointer on how to handle these situations.


“How Would You Do That?” Squeeze Their Critique Into the Context at Hand

From the critic’s perspective, the less information they know about the steps taken to complete your piece of work, the easier that work will be to critique. In other words, the more someone knows about the specifics of you busting your back trying to get a certain thing done, the more difficult it would be to find holes in your process. Once the specifics of your work become known, every critique’s validity is subject to the context at hand.

For instance, someone may critique you for not planting your flowers in a straight line along the walkway toward your door. However, if they knew about how much trouble the roots of the nearby tree caused in your attempts to dig, they’d be more understanding of the fact that you weren’t able to dig in certain spots of your yard.

You’d likely have explored many corners and crevices in your journey toward completing a certain project or task.

Though the critiques you hear can be valid, a contextualized account of the work’s processes will help those critics become less adamant about voicing their critiques.

Make it a goal to contextualize the critiques which haven’t taken any context into account.

Doing that doesn’t involve being defensive of the decisions you made toward completing a certain project or task. The art of grounding others’ critiques within the proper context, includes involving those people in the cognitive processes that took place whilst you were doing your work.

Akin to using their momentum against them, you’d take advantage of their inherent interest in your work to dull their critiques. Even though they may not be interested in your work, they’d have placed themselves in a trap by voicing a critique about it.

If you begin to ask them how they would complete a certain step or task only for them to retreat from the conversation, they’d automatically label themselves as an empty critic. Their act of criticizing your work would not be motivated by a desire to understand more about it. Their critiques would thereby be proven to be shallow.

If they take the bait in conversing about the specifics of the work or project which you’ve completed, you’d be able to contextualize every step you took with reason. If the validity of their critiques changes based on your presentation of information which they might’ve missed, then you’d successfully have disarmed their desire to criticize your work.

Remember, the most important factor in getting the unimpressed to empathize with the work you’ve put into a certain task, is to not be defensive against their comments or impressions.

Any interest, whether critique or compliment, can be used to benefit your cause. Interest is the name of the game in developing a good public perception about a project you’ve completed, or a task you’ve work diligently on. Though some people’s act of downplaying your achievements may hurt in the moment, know that any interest shown can be smoothly guided toward transforming into a certain level of respect.

The volatile emotional state you’re in as you present your hard work to the world is a dangerous one to not focus on. More often than not, an emotional reaction to the lack of positive feedback toward something you worked hard on will diminish your final product’s image even further.

Think of any interest shown, even if it is negative, as a smoldering piece of coal buried in a pile of hay and sticks that you want to light up in flames. The flame would represent a burning desire for people to be interested in your hard work. Being careful with these smoldering pieces of coal is essential in getting the fire up ablaze.

Subtly blow on them to spread their heat to the pieces of hay around them. Blowing hard at your critics in an effort to lessen the temperature of their critiques will blow all the heat away. You wouldn’t be able to subtly guide the smolder toward a burning interest. Caress the smoldering coals and ensure the heat doesn’t dissipate. Guide the heat generated by those who downplay your work toward lighting up a contextual understanding of your work. Before you know it, you’d have cultivated a burning interest in the work that you put out.


Next in line:

Why You Shouldn’t Refute Online Criticism of Your Work

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Disclaimer of Opinion: This article is presented only as opinion. It does not make any scientific, factual, or legal claims in any way.