Sound Like A Kid–Gossip or Discrimination?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctor about a boss’ critique of communication: He informed me that he had recently been told that I “sound like a little kid” on a daily conference call

In a recent one-on-one with my boss, he informed me that he had recently been told that I “sound like a little kid” on a daily conference call. He was not present for this call, but has been other calls with me previously. He mentioned that he thought about dialing in to hear for himself, but thought that would be spying. He also admitted that he didn’t notice himself nor would it affect my personal review. And I asked him directly, do they not think I know what I’m talking about and he confirmed that wasn’t the case.

This leads me to a baffled, slightly upset and a little paranoid state. He even questioned me as to whether he should have told me and told me not to take it personally. This morning he was hanging out at my neighbors cube during my morning call. Hard to say this hasn’t affected by focus on work or his perception of me. What can I do about this and who should I tell?

Signed, Upset

DearĀ Upset:

Hearing a negative assessment of oneself is upsetting. Of course you take it personally. You can obsess about this or realize that someone judged you negatively and told your boss. That individual bypassed you and didn’t have the courage or sense of ethics to speak first to you about it.You labelled your question Gossip or Discrimination. I see nothing in what you describe to see it as discrimination.

Any negative assessment, even one that is mean-spirited, is cause for looking in the mirror; to listen to both the content of your calls and your delivery. Studying your performance is the way to improve in both of those areas.Your first impulse was to get your boss’ opinion. That was wise. Did you ask him how he responded to that individual who said you sounded like a kid? You should take comfort in knowing that he has been with you during other calls and apparently has not critiqued you as sounding like a kid. To re-enforce your good standing, you can invite him to sit in on other calls and make suggestions.

He told you that this complaint about you wouldn’t lower your evaluation. So accept that. Don’t allow this to play over and over in your head and wonder who told him that. Just do your job and seek your boss’ advice and mentoring. It is your job to make your company and your boss look good. A wise boss’ job is to make you be the best that you can be and to do what is reasonable to help you on your career path.Now you are walking on eggs, wondering if you are doing what is expected and if your job is at risk. There is no way from this distance to tell you are not wrong to worry, nor can I propose a sure-fire way for you to once again find self-confidence. But it is safe to remind you to replace the negative thoughts of “baffled, slightly upset and a little paranoid state” with what you are hired to do.

Think about ways to add value to your job and company and how to cut wasted supplies, time, energy and money. Focus on the job, not just keeping your job, but on seeing it as where you are today on a career path. Think big. Let the past be past. Focus on the future. Do these suggestions make sense? Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS, and that means weathering the negatives.

William Gorden