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Kristina (K.C.) Gott (she/her)
Professional Development Coach & Trainer
Hi EmpoweredGirl - Sounds like you are handling this with a lot of patience. There's so much good in the previous comments - making notes of the feedback you are getting and how often, noting if there's a pattern to the criticism - directed at only you? other women? others in general?, deciding what you value about the relationship to determine how to respond in the future. One thing I would add is to consider what this feedback is saying about your colleague. In other words, his criticism - whether helpful or simply spiteful - is communicating something about him. If you can remain neutral (and it sounds like you are doing a marvelous job of it) and be really curious, I wonder what kind of conversation is possible between you about his commentary. To truly respond from a place of neutral curiosity may allow you to really get to the heart of what his motivations are; e.g. "I notice when I do x, you respond y. I'm curious why that is." I hope this is helpful and you are able to get to the root of it soon. It's clear it's a thorny situation. I wish you the best!
Sandra Villani
Senior Front-End Developer, NYC-area.
It's possible that it's out of jealousy. But I'm also curious if he acts this way towards others, and if so, if it's toward everyone. I've definitely seen people in my career who don't like to take direction from women, and I've also seen plenty who don't like to take direction no matter who it's from.
Sounds like a difficult situation that you have handled with grace. When a colleague acts critical of myself or someone else, I always ask why is the colleague acting this way? Is it out of a genuine desire to be helpful to me or is this a reflection of their own insecurity and need to feel like they are better than someone else? A little bit of both? Nitpicky and unnecessary criticism like this (as opposed to constructive criticism about work product) is generally more reflective of someone else's head space than your actual performance. Remembering that when I am criticized at work helps me reduce the negative impact the comments could have on my psyche and allows me to focus on my actual work performance, not the put downs. Keep a note of the next 1 or 2 times he makes a comment like this. If you feel there is some goodhearted intention behind these comments and you value him as a teammate you can work with and learn from, you may want to tell him you appreciate his feedback, discuss in more detail why he is making the comments, and whether there is some improvement you can be making, but add that the way he is making them is not constructive and you would rather he give you feedback about your work and not your emoji usage. If there is no positive intent behind his comments, and no value to be gained from conferring with him, remember the place he is coming from and ignore him and his feedback. Try to have less interactions with him, don't engage when possible- his "feedback" will wane. You have not mentioned if he makes these comments in private or in front of others which is another dimension to think about. If it is public, definitely take him aside privately and tell him you appreciate it, but the public comments have to stop immediately as it is incredibly unprofessional.
Lena Evergreen
Where For-Profit Meets Non-Profit
What a nuanced situation. Based on the information you've provided thus far it sounds like you've done an admirable job at staying professional. Curious, has your direct supervisor or colleagues noticed his inappropriate behavior? Has anyone also been in his crosshairs, present or past? When there's problematic behavior exhibited by one person, it often comes through in multiple arenas. If others have also witnessed his behavior (or even if they haven't), it sounds like this would be a good opportunity for some stern feedback to this person from his direct supervisor. If you've already attempted to communicate your needs and wishes and they've gone unanswered, it's time to call in backup.