How to Deal with Critical and Judgmental People

The people we meet every day have a large impact on us, our opinions, the way we think, the way we speak, and the way we perceive the world around us. There are some people who have an immense positive influence. But what can we do about the people who needlessly bring us down with every opportunity they get? How do we deal with people who see us as fundamentally flawed and imperfect, and criticize everything we say, everything we do, and everything we begin?

Moreover, what if such a person was a very close family aide or a friend? What do you do with such a negative influence in your life, especially when you know that severing ties with such a person will have unfeasible consequences?

The most powerful answer to this loaded question is that we must strive to learn from what they say. Maybe that person can take us closer to who we are – closer to perfection. Maybe that person criticizes ceaselessly and needlessly, but by paying attention to their rants, you can benefit by bettering your own personality. By using this tactic over the years, I have developed more constructive relationships with such negative-minded judgmental people, all the while making me more comfortable in my own skin. Here’s a list of things I’ve learned along the way, and can help you not only deal with such people by learning from them, but also helping them and building everlasting interpersonal bonds:

1) Acknowledge the pain

Embrace the fact that the other person’s words are piercing you, hurting you, and numbing you. Accept the pain, and then you can begin dealing with it. Like a philosopher once quoted, “The first step to solving a problem is recognizing there is one.”

2) Embrace your insecurities

Analyze what the person is saying in an unbiased way – maybe what they’re saying makes sense, maybe it’s your ego that’s making you think they’re being needlessly judgmental? If that’s the case, shed your ego, acknowledge your fears, and accept the criticism. And finally, work on it.

Or maybe are you afraid of interactions which is why you think the environment around you is critical and overtly disapproving? If so, the problem is not the people, but you. You need to reform and revamp, nothing can change you better than you.

3) Cultivate curiosity

Think about the person judging you – analyze him or her for a change. Maybe the reason why they’re criticizing you is because they have certain problems or insecurities of their own. Sometimes judgments and mockery are a form of expression of fear in people. Bullies are more afraid than the bullied, remember? The same logic applies here. Get to know the person. Perhaps they are in pain, or they have unmet needs. Exercise compassion and empathy… and who knows, you might develop a long-lasting interpersonal bond with that person.

4) Keep boundaries, though

Sometimes, people hurt you intentionally. Some people aren’t in pain, don’t do it unknowingly, or their criticism has no meaning. They just want to see you fail. In such cases, identify the people deftly, shut them out of your life, and keep them out of it. You’re better off without such characters in your life.

5) Your stories are not meant for everyone

If you pour out your misery and heartache to people, some might not be bothered, or might not take you seriously. If so, don’t be let down – not everyone is supposed to understand your pain. Know your audience, and know your vulnerabilities.

6) Refuel and recharge

Once in a while, take a walk, meditate, dance, or take up a new hobby – do something out of the blue to keep the element of surprise ripe in your life. It’ll help you immensely. Join a new class – maybe learn cooking. Or try to work in a garden.

Remember than life is not about finding the right crowd of people – it’s about building the right set of relationships. Learn from everyone, be kind to them, but don’t let everyone influence you. And don’t ever be let down by baseless criticism. Often I’ve found that when people needlessly criticize you, it’s more about them than it is about us.

Photo Source: johnhain