I’m speaking at the 2015 Skillsoft Perspectives conference on Wednesday. I’ll be up on stage with a bunch of experts talking about talent analytics.

A colleague of mine asked, “What are you doing on that panel?”

I said — “I sit on the board of a company that uses technology to marry and dissect labor, business, and financial intelligence. I am an advisor to two companies that use data to help HR practitioners get smarter about their companies. And I meet thousands of HR professionals every year who teach me about what big data and analytics mean in their worlds. I got this.”

My colleague said, “And you’ve got a great sense of humor.”

I said, “Really? My sense of humor?”

He said, “I used the word and.”

(HR technology dudes are the worst, am I right?)

What’s your go-to strategy when someone cuts you down and tries to make light of your expertise? In the example above, I’m totally defensive and touchy. Here are some alternate strategies.

Ignore It.

Sometimes it’s best to keep going. Don’t acknowledge the comment. It’s beach season, baby. Vacation time is here. Nobody got time for petty insults!

Address it directly.

When you hear a snide remark, call it out. I was at a workshop, a few weeks ago. One woman said something snippy about her colleague in the room. I stopped the discussion and asked, “I’m not tracking. Can you elaborate?” You should have seen this woman try to dig herself out of a passive-aggressive hole. She broke a sweat. It was the most exercise she’s had in weeks. I shouldn’t laugh, but I am laughing. You don’t act like a dick and get away with it on my watch.

Put it in context.

I believe that, 99% of the time, awkward comments are just failed attempts at humor. I know this because I make failed jokes all of the time. It is why I’m taking a stand-up writing class. And let me give you a pro-tip: even people who are naturally funny have to work at it.


When someone cuts you down once, it’s probably just a mistake. Forget about it. Forgive the slip of the tongue. Don’t obsess. Don’t ruminate. And don’t try to think of a snappy comeback for later. Just move on … that’s the healthiest thing to do.

Me? I forgave my colleague. And, honestly, he’s right. What the hell do I know about talent analytics? Sometimes, when someone cuts you down, it’s about choosing your attitude. And I’m choosing to have a good time in Orlando and learn from other great people!


  1. And maybe that HR tech dude just wasn’t acquainted with this aspect of your background, you multidimensional HR pro, you!

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