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It's not my fault

What to do when a co-worker criticizes us

Carl says: I changed jobs and joined a consulting firm so that I could learn more and gain experience. I had a good basic skill set, but lacked somewhat in the specific subject matter they were covering in the first project. Management agreed that it would be a great experience for me to build on my existing background. The two guys I’d be working with had a lot of experience to learn from. However, once we got into the project, my two teammates became overly critical. They sent unfair feedback to management and thus, when the project ended, I came very close to losing my job. Fortunately, I had one person supporting me, so I was given another chance, albeit at a lower salary. Over the next few months, I worked on projects with excellent people, performed well, and I received outstanding feedback. However, I don’t understand why my co-workers sent the negative report to management in the first place.

The expert says: Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, writes about the concept of the win-lose philosophy of human interaction.  This is a situation where a person feels that, in order to win, someone else has to lose. “Value does not lie within them, it lies outside. It’s in comparison to someone else, or against some expectation.” (p 207) Sometimes this attitude manifests itself obviously, as certain people outwardly try to bring others down. But more typically this attitude is subtle. If we feel threatened by someone, we are critical and judgmental of their shortcomings. These criticisms may seem as harmless as expressing them to our friends, or as purposeful as judging someone publicly. Instead of trying to improve ourselves, we feel it necessary to bring others down.   

Christ taught that the more we evaluate and condemn others, the more we can expect to the judged.  In Luke’s Gospel, Christ refers to hypocrites who worry more about the splinter in their brothers’ eyes than the beam in their own. (Luke 6:37-42) We are more critical of small faults in others than we are of our own. Jesus says we need to focus first on removing the beam from our own eye before we can help our neighbor with his or hers. We should concentrate on rectifying our own flaws first, before we worry about someone else’s. We need to constructively work on improving ourselves, and helping others in order to be successful. Covey echoes Christ’s message by explaining that the result is a win-win situation, which is actually a manifestation of love.