We all have been there – you’re in a great mood and there’s something you’re extremely happy about and you tell a friend, a family member or a coworker so they can share your excitement. And… BAM! Your excitement is met with indifference or worse yet – criticism. Before you know it, your great mood has completely diminished because of your interaction with a critical person.
Critical people can be a drag to be around – especially when you’re basking in the glory of excitement. No matter what you say, a critical person will find some way to spoil the conversation. They tend to scrutinize almost everything and offer unwanted opinions.
To make matters worse, critical people, or we can call them energy vampires, are often ready to pounce and discourage others.
And as such – critical people aren’t the first people you want to hang out with. While you can try to avoid them, you’re bound to run into them at school, work or social gatherings.
Here are 6 Ways to Deal with Critical People
1. Don’t Take it Personal
This is a tough one. But – most of the time – criticisms reflect more about the person dishing up the criticism versus you.
The critical person may behave this way because of their own limiting beliefs about their life and how others should live theirs. It may even feel like the critical person is out to get you – but it’s probable they behave this way with everyone else.
2. Understand the Underlying Message
Could a critical person simply be misunderstood? Absolutely. Maybe this person is genuinely trying to offer an opinion, but their delivery is lacking tact. This could and sometimes does, perpetuate misunderstandings.
Here’s a tip – focus on what is being communicated (what they’re trying to convey) versus how the message is being conveyed (word choice and tone). It may surprise you – but sometimes people are simply unaware of how they come across when communicating with others.
3. Address the Discomfort Within
Just as a person’s criticism of others reflects something about what is going on with them – our discomfort with criticism reflects something about our inner framework as well.
If you’re ever uncomfortable with other comments – look within and try to understand why this makes you feel uncomfortable. Ask yourself these simple questions:
Why am I feeling uncomfortable with so-and-so’s comment?
What is it that is really bothering me?
Keep asking yourself these questions until you get to the root of the discomfort. Most often, your first set of answers will be tailored towards the external world – issues you have with the criticizer. But as you keep asking yourself these questions, you may find that your answers change from external to internally focused.
The discomfort you feel is not because of the critical person – but because of something within you.
4. Be Cautious When Asking for Opinions
If you’re unable to cope with outside opinions – then don’t ask for them. You’ll just end up frustrated.
Critical people love to dispense their opinions even when they haven’t been asked to share.
If you’re looking for an opinion or want to share something that excites you – be sure to share it with the right people. Don’t open yourself up to someone who has a critical nature.
Here’s a perceptive story about dealing with a difficult and critical person:
Buddha was well known for his ability to respond to evil with good. There was a man who knew about his reputation and he traveled miles and miles and miles to test Buddha. When he arrived and stood before Buddha, he verbally abused him constantly; he insulted him; he challenged him; he did everything he could to offend Buddha.
Buddha was unmoved, he simply turned to the man and said, “May I ask you a question?”
The man responded with, “Well, what?”
Buddha said, “If someone offers you a gift and you decline to accept it, to whom then does it belong?”
The man said, “Then it belongs to the person who offered it.”
Buddha smiled, “That is correct. So, if I decline to accept your abuse, does it not then still belong to you?”
The man was speechless and walked away.
If you can’t stop someone from voicing their critical opinion – then you have the option to ignore them and disengage. We cannot change how people think and behave – but we can change how we react to criticism and how we choose to deal with an overly critical person.
6. Kill Them with Kindness
Often those who are critical towards others– are the ones that need kindness the most.
Ask yourself: Why are critical people so critical? Why is it hard for them to be excited for others? Why is it so hard for them to be positive?
The answer: Because they criticize themselves more than they criticize others.
No matter what you do, who you surround yourself with – you will encounter criticism. While some criticism is healthy and can help you along your journey – dealing with a critical person is a whole separate issue.
When people are critical – it’s more about them than us. Still, this gives us an opportunity to learn about ourselves, to take better care of ourselves when dealing with a critical person and to practice responding with personal integrity in mind.
Which of these most resonated with you?