How to deal with a critical person

In a recent client chat we were talking about ways to deal with someone who is always criticizing you. Most of us have at least one person in our lives like that.

1. First, remember that criticism is just feedback. Often we get emotional and defensive.テつ Before you say anything, step back to detach a bit. Thenテつ you are able to question it. Is the criticism helpful? Is it true?

2. If the feedback is helpful, you can say, “Thanks for sharing”. Don’t forget to write your insights in your journal later. A perfect opportunity for growth.

3. If it isn’t helpful,テつ you can say,テつ テつ “Do you think so?” or “Really? I’ll have to think about that.” And let it go.

4. You do not have to defend yourselfテつ for eachテつ criticism. It takes a lot of energy, and doesn’t usually put you in the best light. Think of some people who can’t ever admit a mistake or are too stubborn to look at other’s opinions. Not to mention, it just prolongs a bad moment.

5. Just because you aren’t defending yourself, doesn’t mean you agree with the criticism.

6. It’s not always criticism. If you are around a critical person a lot, you may have built a defensive shell. No matter what they say, you assume it’s critical. Your husband says, “I see you are wearing blue today.” You get indignant saying, “Are you saying I look bad in blue? What’s wrong with blue? You are always saying I should change what I wear.”

7. When someone goes over the line into belittling, name-calling or shouting, say, “What did you mean by that? I hear you saying that…” But – and this is very important – you must do this calmly. Otherwise, they just assume you are being too emotional. By the question, they are forced to acknowledge the stupid thing they just said and often will go mute or try to explain themselves better.

8. If they refuse to shape up their mouth during the discussion, leave the room or house. Let them know you will not stay and listen if they don’t talk to you with respect.テつ You do not need to listen to it or stand there defending yourself.

9. Don’t give others the power over your self-esteem or how you think of yourself. Just because they say it, doesn’t mean you have to believe it. After a critical talk, find a friend who can tell you about all your good points. Write a list of your strengths, so you can boost yourself up. If you know the criticism is true, work on a plan to change if that is what you want. Check to make sure you aren’t berating yourself, too. Remember you are a valuable human being.

10. Sometimes the person is a verbal abuser and you may need to get counseling and/or getテつ out of the situation. For more on verbal self-defense, click here.