I've written before about being nice. It's important to treat others with respect and generosity, and to provide both positive and negative feedback in a manner that allows them to hear it without getting defensive. But...
You have to have thick skin.
For better or for worse, people aren't always going to be nice. They're going to say something harsh, or they're going to get frustrated and lash out. Witness the yelling team, who yells because they care so deeply about their product. And you need to handle it.
So what does thick skin mean?
- React to the problem, not the message. Someone who is frustrated probably isn't going to be expressing themselves clearly, but that doesn't make the underlying problem any less real. Your job is to find the underlying problem.
- Don't take it personally. It's unlikely that the person is lashing out at you personally. It's more likely to be frustration with a situation or a problem, and you're just the unlucky winner.
That's really it. Yes, it would be nice if everyone were nice all the time, but it's not going to happen. So make sure your skin is thick for those times when nice ain't happening.