Turning Confrontation into Opportunity – How to Handle a Critical Colleague

It could be perfect – your presentation is convincing, your arguments are precise, and it looks like the management of a new team, which your boss decides, is in your grasp… if it weren’t for that stubborn colleague vehemently criticizing your every move.

confrontation into opportunity

Maybe he sees his criticism as a possibility to grab some attention and further his own career? But don’t let this coworker get you down! Instead of sinking to his level, rise above to demonstrate your own superior leadership abilities, and transform these scary situations into opportunities. Read more on tips to handle a critical colleague!

Rules on how to handle a critical colleague

Rule #1: Never Retaliate

Anyone who wants to display his own qualities as a team leader should never respond or attack an antagonistic coworker. Remember that humans are “herd animals,” with an instinctive social response. In any meeting or presentation, two groups are automatically established: the presenter and the audience. Regardless of how apathetic the audience replies to a critic’s comments, if the presenter chooses to lash out at this detractor, the audience will reflexively protect him as “one of their own.” Furthermore, a verbal argument can quickly backfire: the listeners can quickly detect any insecurities or doubts that the presenter may have.

Rule #2: Remain Neutral

Skilled executives encourage their team members to share ideas, and work to incorporate and moderate such discussions. So should you. But in the case of a disruption, try to maintain order and stay diplomatic, and don’t allow yourself to get worked up. Instead, work to see these interruptions as a chance to showcase your own ability to stay cool under pressure.

Rule #3: Hear What You Want to Hear

Not every critical comment is a verbal attack. Could it be that your colleague is simply envious of your great performance? Perhaps there’s a compliment lying behind his snarky commentary. Envy is just one form of validation. A bigger bonus: When you choose to interpret any remarks on your presentation as compliments, rather than critiques, you will remain noticeably more calm and powerful.

Rule #4: Show Respect

Go one step further, and praise your critic! This is a tactic that demonstrates exquisite leadership abilities. Keep in mind that your critic is actively paying attention and engaging in your presentation, and thank him for his participation. When you pay respect to the disrupter, it puts you in a good light, and you are more likely to win the approval of the other listeners.

Rule #5: Take the Wind Out of His Sails

Stay quiet and diplomatic – it’s not so easy to do when one is being bombarded with harsh criticisms and blatant insults. How should one handle such pointed comments and attacks? Don’t answer immediately – buy yourself some time to contemplate a better answer. Or ask your colleague for the source of his information – perhaps his commentary is just an attempt at humor? One last trick is to highlight similarities. With these tips, you can successfully placate a troublemaker.

Rule #6: Prove Your Leadership Qualities

A lecture is about so much more than presenting your information. Take this disruption as an opportunity to prove your leadership qualities under pressure, demonstrate your superiority, and your ability to moderate a dialogue. Your boss will recognize that you are capable of moderating a discussion, handling a diverse group of people, and helping a team to successfully grow and work together – and your presentation will help to further your career.

We hope these tips can help you get prepared before your next management presentation! Remain positive and don’t let a overcritical colleague distract you. Keep the focus where it belongs- share a new idea and convince others of the value you create.

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