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Carly's avatar

How do you get over hurt feelings when clients and customers complain or verbally attack you?

Asked by Carly (4555points) January 17th, 2014

I edit articles submitted by people who are not professional writers – which means I usually have to do a lot of editing to make their pieces “work.”

In the past few months I’ve had several writers complain that they hate the way I edit, I’m editing their voice out, or telling me that I don’t know what I’m doing – BUT, my co-workers, and even my boss (who did my job for over 30 years) have told me I’m fine. In fact, I was recently promoted to full-time because I was “doing such a great job.”

I know that I’m doing my job well, but still, some of these people I work with can be so defensive and down right rude. I’m really worried that if this keeps happening, my confidence is going to be so low that I might end of leaving this job… But I know that there will always be customers or clients like this at any job. :(

What are your suggestions or thoughts on this?

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10 Answers

marinelife's avatar

You said it yourself: they are not professional writers.

Your job puts you automatically in an adversarial position with them.

If something needs a lot of rewriting, you could try giving them a lit of suggestions and letting them rewrite it. If someone tends to make the same errors over and over, you could gently give them feedback.

Take your cues on the job you are doing from your boss and co-workers.

thorninmud's avatar

Take it from a mod: Look at it as a great education in the workings of the human ego (your own and others’). People feel personally invested in what they’ve written. It feels like a piece of themselves. Anything that you do to suggest that something needs to be changed about it will be taken personally. All you can really do about that is couch your guidance in the gentlest terms possible, taking the role of a collaborator with the writer toward the greater end of getting their voice out there in the most effective way possible.

But this is also an exercise for you in managing your own ego. Because you are the most likely target of the client’s ego backlash, you have to be able to see it for what it is, and not absorb their fury personally. You are simply doing your job. As long as you (and your supervisors) see that you aren’t trying to misuse your power to put some personal agenda forward, then the client is really just venting the pain of a wounded ego, and it has nothing to do with you.

glacial's avatar

Don’t take their criticism so seriously. If they knew what they were talking about, no one would have to edit their work. Your job is important, and your skills are helping these people look like better writers than they are. It’s unfortunate that they can’t see that.

livelaughlove21's avatar

The job I have now is the only job I’ve ever had that was not in customer service or working directly with the public. I’ve been yelled at a few times over the years, and I learned to just brush it off. I’ve worked in a restaurant, where you can’t take anything personally because everyone’s mistakes are obviously the server’s fault, in a medical office, where people get really upset that they have to fill out paperwork every year, and at a bank, where you’re dealing with people’s money and they think everything is personal. I hate customer service with a passion and I’m glad to be done with it, but the insults eventually stop hurting your pride once you realize that it’s really just them taking their frustrations out on you.

Of course people may get defensive if you’re doing a lot of correcting on their work – work that they might be very proud of. If your boss says you’re doing great, I’m sure you are. However, if you’re getting a lot of complaints that you’re over-editing to the point that you’re taking their voice away from their writing, I’d take that into consideration and ease up a bit. If it’s not a blaring mistake, maybe let it slide. If you think, “well, that’s technically correct, but I think this would be better,” just leave it alone. Perhaps you are over-editing.

So, in summary, don’t take the insults to heart, but listen to the complaints from an objective standpoint and always be willing to improve on what you do.

picante's avatar

If you have an opportunity at the outset to establish a “partnership” with the client, that will go a long way in mitigating possible negative reactions. Yours are the eyes that catch mistakes; yours are the ears that can correct a tonal misstep; yours are the skills that allow this client to shine when the final publication is announced. They should hug you and send you chocolates!

The ego can be bruised when others “correct” you or change your style; but when they see your role as supportive rather than destructive, the ego might grow a tougher skin. They are the subject-matter experts; you are the writing expert!

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

My daughter feels extremely upset when I critique her homework, or a poem she has written. We have talked it over many times. She understands that I am trying to help. She knows that when she goes back and looks at stuff she wrote a few years ago, she can discover her own glaring errors. Even so, it is tough. I like @marinelife‘s suggestion that you might contact them about what you see, and give them an opportunity to make some changes, or at least feel like they have input. It would feel a bit less like seeing a school paper come back with red ink all over it. It is hard though, however you go about it, to pour your heart over somet5hing you care about, and then have someone judge it as lacking. You are feeling about your work the way they feel about their contributions. If you extend some interaction, perhaps they will respond with more understanding.

Carly's avatar

@Jonesn4burgers Thanks for sharing that. When I was in middle school and high school, my mom did the same thing – and I had the same reaction! haha But it really helped me later on in life when I went to college; no one I knew really put in the effort to revise their papers, but I knew it would make a difference.

Thank you everyone so far with your helpful advice. :)

ibstubro's avatar

If you have a regular complainer, perhaps you could get someone else in office to edit their work independent of you. Read both revised editions over carefully, then submit them both back to the author.

If could prove interesting and informative for everyone involved.

JLeslie's avatar

It can feel very hurtful, I can completely understand. Maybe there is some way you can diffuse the situation where everyone feels better. Be sure not to be dismissive when someone questions your edit. Listen to them so they feel you are taking them seriously, and explain why you changed it. Maybe you already do that, and some people are just going to be impossible. Having the support of your boss is what really counts. But, I too, if it was constant, I would probaby want to leave the jon for one that I felt I was better appreciated by everyone I interact with.

rojo's avatar

I have a friend who was in charge of a department at a major university that re-wrote grant applications so that the professors actually stood a chance of getting them. He said the arrogance of some of them was extremely difficult to take. They could get pretty nasty. He would constantly have to take up for his employees when these profs attacked their work.

He said you just have to develop a thick skin but I think it helped that he stood behind his people and backed them up. It gave them the confidence to do their job right regardless of the adversity.

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