4 Beneficial Ways to Deal with Critical People

ways to deal with critical people

You and I know that constructive criticism can be helpful. But some people can be so relentlessly negative and critical that they perforate your joy, squash your enthusiasm, and dampen your vibrant energy. No matter what happy news you might have, they are guaranteed to find the cloud to fit your silver lining.

Here are 4 strategies you can use to deal with critical people:

1. Avoid Taking It Personally

ways to deal with critical people

It’s a safe bet that it’s not you, it’s them. Watch how they treat others. You’ll see they will criticize most people, not just you.

Mainstream thinking is that critical people criticize everything (and everyone) because they have low self-esteem.But that’s not entirely true. (You’ll see why in a minute.)

Unfortunately, what is also widely believed is because ‘critical people feel terrible about themselves, they will pick on others and put them down to feel better about themselves.’  (Not entirely true either.)

Here’s what is important to know (even though it’s contrary to mainstream thinking).

And I will let my clients, who were caught up in a continual tumble dryer cycle of self-criticism, give you the answer.

When you ask them…

“What was the most profound realization you had during your Puncture Self-criticism and Step into Self-acceptance Program?”

They will tell you…

“I thought my critical inner voice was criticizing me because I’m a bad person or I’m not good enough or I have to be perfect. But that wasn’t the case. It was criticizing me to protect me. It sounds crazy but it wanted to protect me from being hurt again.

You see a part of our personality known as ‘the inner critic’ develops when we are very small because then we are extremely vulnerable to the judgments of others. And the critic is developed to protect us from these judgments.

Its way of looking at things is: if it can criticize us first, it’s going to be sure that we do things ‘right’. That way nobody else can then criticize us. And, that way we can avoid feeling anxious or abandoned or being hurt further.

To circle back to the mainstream thinking mentioned earlier, the reason critical people will criticize others is simple. When you are afflicted by harsh self-critical thoughts daily, it unfortunately becomes your day-to-day way of being. It becomes a habit. A habit that determines how you speak to yourself – and others.

Hopefully this gives you some insight into why it’s best to remind ourselves, when we’re on the receiving end of someone’s criticism – that it’s less about us and more about them.

2. Look Past The Delivery

ways to deal with critical people

Maybe your critical colleague or friend is tactless, or just bad at expressing themselves rather than being mean. Try to see past the blunt delivery, to understand what is really being said. For all you know there might be some nuggets of valuable advice hidden in their muddied message.

3. Deal with Your Discomfort

ways to deal with critical people

You can decide to take critical feedback on its own merits. That is, as a source of honest feedback. Still, criticism never feels good. Does the negative feedback trigger emotions deep within you? If so, try to read your own discomfort. Maybe it reminds you of a past event, or maybe there’s a ring of truth in the criticism you may be reluctant to accept. Sit with your discomfort, see what it’s telling you and engage with it, so you can move past it.

4. Be Less Critical and More Accepting of Yourself

ways to deal with critical people

It’s easy to say, “If you can’t stand being criticized, then it’s up to you not to have conversations with people who are likely to criticize you. Don’t ask for advice or expose yourself to their negativity. Don’t share good news if you know they’ll throw cold water on it, don’t seek their praise if you know you won’t get it.” Yet that’s not always possible.

If you must have contact with a negative and critical person at work or in your private life, engage with them as little as possible. When you know they are not likely to change, accept that is who they are, and let them be.

Should they throw their mud at you, let it drop off like water. Be in command of yourself. Remain calm. Respond with awareness. If possible, try to show them kindness for that’s what they truly need and are unable to give themselves.

However, if their critical feedback becomes disrespectful towards you, be firm. Calmly assert yourself as you remind them to be respectful.

Truth is that some people will be critical no matter what you do. Nevertheless, fewer people will criticize you when you criticize yourself less. The more accepting you are of yourself, the more you exude that energy. Subconsciously people pick up on that and respond by being more accepting of you.

Conversely, the more we criticize ourselves, the more we emit that energy. People respond accordingly and criticize us. Like attracts like. Few of us like to hear it, yet the law of attraction also plays a role when it comes to the number of critical people present in our life.

In a nutshell…

The less critical and more accepting you are of yourself, the less you will be criticized, the more you will be able to accept those who are critical.

Unless you live in a remote Himalayan cave, there is no way to avoid critical people completely.

So, what can you do?

You can choose to what degree you will have contact with someone who is negative and critical.

You can choose how much, or how little, you will be affected by their critical remarks.

You can choose how much less you will criticize yourself, and how much more you will endeavour to accept yourself. That way you ‘attract’ far fewer critical people into your life and learn to be more tolerant of them too.

Whichever way you choose to deal with critical people will determine how much or little their negative feedback affects you – so choose wisely.


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About Dr. Sonja Jahn

Conscious entrepreneurs, leaders and change makers from all over the world seek out Dr. Sonja Jahn’s unique skills and proven system to free themselves of their subconscious blocks, beliefs and behaviours. As a result, they experience a positive and lasting transformation and achieve a greater level of success and satisfaction in their professional and personal life. Read more...