Snapped At Someone At Work Today And It Reminded Me I Have A Problem...

So I have a tendency to get defensive. Today at work I ended up having an argument with a coworker and losing my temper a bit with her because of this tendency of mine. Not my proudest moment. I of course apologized and we made up, but I still feel very badly about it. The way this coworker criticized me was rather harsh (which she herself acknowledged and on her end of things agreed to be more tactful), but at the same time, I overreacted when I snapped at her. I also did it in front of a customer which also didn't make me very proud. I feel ashamed honestly. I know it's just a fast food job, but I'm not one of those snobs who doesn't consider it a "real job." It very much is a real job in the sense that it requires everyone to have a good work ethic and cooperate for everything to go smoothly. It's not my dream job, but until I graduate I won't be working my dream job anyway, and I want to make the best of it while I'm in this position.

My dream job will require that I be able to handle criticism graciously and turn it into ways to help me, regardless of how tactfully it's given to me. I hate being corrected and criticized so much. It's like something in me just feels completely threatened. It's a very primal feeling, much like being a small child and being yelled at by the adults. I wish that I were better able to process criticism and not immediately feel like I need to go on the defensive. I need to learn to stop, take a breath, and think before I react to anything critical said about me. I want to maintain assertiveness, but only in a positive way. I don't want to be remembered as the grumpy and ill-tempered person who can't take the heat, whether I'm behind a fast food counter or doing research and teaching at a university.

Does anyone have any tips that have worked for you? I think the only thing I'll be able to do is to be hyper-aware of myself at all times. This is extremely hard for me to do because I'm so socially clumsy on top of having a lot of pride (and I hate the ego bruising). D'oh.
somegirl12345678 somegirl12345678
1 Response Jul 29, 2010

I am defensive especially when I am spoken to in harsh tones. When spoken to harshly or in a belittling way, I feel attacked and the need to explain myself to the person that I feel is attacking me. I feel the need to clear up what I feel is misunderstanding or something. I now remind myself that an explanation is not necessary and less said is better sometimes. Silence is golden. I once worked in a place where all they wanted me to say was "ok" in response to what was said to me in regardless of how it was said or if the statement was true or not. If I explained my position or responded with more than "ok" or "yes" I was told I was defensive. This employer did not want me to elaborate at all. I remained employed at the job for a little while, by doing exactly what is noted in the previous post. I would take a deep breath and think before I responded. Even though I no longer work at the job I am referring to, the experience was a great learning tool. I can deal better with other's remarks or criticism of me much better in regardless of their motives. I also believe that if others are very competitive and know that one is perceived as defensive they will prey on that weakness.