If you receive any strong negative criticism, stop the meeting immediately at that point, and say you will only resume when you have a witness present. This might be a friend, colleague, or preferably union representative. Take notes of exactly what was said while still fresh in your mind, and ASK for the criticism to be repeated word for word when a witness is present. It's often a power thing, and having had some of the most difficult people imaginable to deal with, I have a good experience in ways of diluting the ABUSE these people often dish out. Some just liked to see other people cringe, and others were about as insensitive of others feelings as could possibly be. - And don't be afraid to express some of YOUR feelings, such as - I find that extremely upsetting considering how hard and diligently I work; I am a very genuine person and I do my very best; This couldn't be more distressing to me; I would really appreciate some genuine help in this matter; I am at a complete and total loss to know how you've arrived at that opinion of me or my work; I don't feel that this is in any way deserved; I feel this is totally unjust; I feel less and less appreciated each time you speak to me... and so on. I would avoid, at least in the first instance, any discussion of 'fairness' as difficult people very rarely act fairly to everyone and their view of fairness will invariably differ greatly from yours! Also, it is best to try your best to defend yourself and avoid actively criticising the difficult person's stance or attitude as this will just divert them to further criticise you. At a later stage, of course, eg if repeated with a union rep present, it might well be appropriate then and only then to introduce concepts of fairness, or unfairness, as grievance procedures may then be invoked, and you will need the witness for any comments in reply. Discrimination is different and you are quite within your rights to point out what you consider as discrimination, and in fact you should do so immediately this occurs, and again consider and point out grievance procedures. Also, consider introducing you as well as your work. They may back down a little and re-define crticisms as work only. If they don't, you can be sure there are personal issues involved as well, ie opinions of you as well as of your work, eg do they consider your face fits. If there is a low or 'devalued' opinion of you for whatever reason (could be something as simple as a qualification or route to qualification - some bosses hate people having better qualifications than they themselves have, or do not consider some qualifications as being equally commensurate), do consider strongly changing jobs or moving elsewhere either within or without of the company. At least then you would have a different boss, maybe difficult in different ways, but at least a DIFFERENT person, maybe with altogether different views! And a good chance of being properly appreciated, and not over-looked, and maybe even a good and easy-going boss!
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