Did you realize having “thin skin” can be a barrier to success in the workplace? I’m not talking about a skin condition that can be treated by lotions and medicine. The definition of thin skin is “easily bothered by criticism or insults.”
You want to be one of those people who outplay and outshine the competition by producing superior work and innovative ideas but your thin skin gets in the way. You want to be a team player and be part of the winning group but you constantly run into trouble when your thin skin makes you upset and unable to cope with the slightest bit of criticism or just being told to do things another way.
Is thin skin unconquerable?
You may have been told in the past to get a thicker skin and get over it but sometimes that advice isn’t welcome. You get hurt feelings easily and it is easier to wallow in them than to find a solution. You see people at work as being mean to you, customers being rude, and bosses not understanding how hard you work.
You don’t feel like you fit in, a little like a square peg in a round hole. You think everyone else is happy and you are the only one troubled. It is hard for you to see the bigger picture because you always operate from the perspective of your thin skin.
Even no response bothers you because you thrive on feedback. You prefer positive feedback or even praise but when you don’t hear anything, your overactive imagination starts inventing rejection.
When you are in a job search, your thin skin makes every rejection feel like a permanent and unfixable solution. You know deep in your heart that you excel in certain areas but you find it hard to articulate that in your interviews and the interviewers seem on the attack. You don’t know how you will ever find a new role.
Four tips to conquering thin skin
- Acknowledge that this is part of your make-up. Manifested by tears in women, frustration in men, a thin skin probably means you have a sensitive nature. It may mean that you are more creative than most but you have to channel your creativity and breath through conflicts.
- Monitor if you have more thin skin symptoms when you are tired or hungry. Many people respond poorly when they are not taking care of basic needs. Getting a good night’s sleep actually can change your outlook.
- Take time to respond. Don’t return that phone call when you are mad, don’t send off an angry email or text message, don’t complain to the team about the person that criticized you. Let the dust settle, breathe through it, and channel your energy in another direction.
- Don’t over-react! When you have a thin skin, you want to throw in the towel and quit so no one can hurt you. Don’t make any decisions until the dust settles.
The last one is critical. Often the person with a thin skin makes things worse by wanting to quit the job, end the relationship, leave the committee, and run from the pressure of criticism.
Julie Walraven is a triple-certified resume writer whose interactive coaching style helps job seekers earn winning positions when she creates tactical resumes and LinkedIn profiles to market you for success. Learn more here.
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