Here’s a nugget that I think can help everyone out: Don’t let backhanded compliments get you down.
Listen, we’ve all had bosses who might have been a little lacking in the tact department. They don’t realize just how much hearing a kind word every now and again — a simple, unambiguous “attaboy,” not something like, “Way to not repeatedly fuck up tonight, Swamp Thing; it was a welcome break from your customary abysmal and foul-smelling play” — can really motivate employees to give it their all. They’re just so focused on the task at hand that they tend to drive the folks around them too darn hard (an approach that can translate into consistently above-average outcomes but, interestingly enough, doesn’t quite seem to lead to true ultimate success).
Sure, we’d love to see them try a little harder to show that they recognize our talents and appreciate our efforts. And we’d REALLY prefer that they use phrases like “unique performer” to describe our contributions to the group, rather than calling us “abominable circus freak” or “horror movie failure.” But you know what? Some bosses just aren’t wired for “nice,” but they do want to help us do the best job we can do and really get the most out of ourselves.
So if your supervisor’s having a bad day and says something not-so-nice, just try to take it in stride, listen for the silver lining and take the compliment in the spirit it was (probably) intended. That way, you’ll be able to keep on having a great day. Plus, no crippling-sense-of-self-doubt-engendered-by-a-career-of-shameful-rejections-by-the-one-man-whose-love-you-always-craved-and-never-earned.
Thanks, Mark! For more straight talk from the 7-foot-4-inch fomer NBA player, check out Stand Tall, Play Big.