How to Deal with Critical People?

How to Deal with Critical People?

Critical People

Criticism can be difficult to process sometimes. Especially when it is a recurring phenomenon. Criticism was defined as negative feedback from others, that’s often unpleasant, but not uncommon in a 2020 study. Although frank and unfiltered feedback is necessary sometimes, too much or excessive negative feedback can take a toll on mental health. Whether it’s a colleague, friend, family member, or even a stranger, encountering criticism can evoke feelings of defensiveness, anger, or insecurity. However, learning how to effectively respond to criticism can not only diffuse tense situations but also foster healthier relationships and personal growth. In this article, we will explore helpful strategies for dealing with critical people in a constructive manner.

1. Understand the Context

    Before reacting defensively, take a moment to consider the intent behind the criticism. Who is this person, is it your mother, father, friend or other close people? Is the person offering feedback genuinely trying to help, or are they being intentionally hurtful? To respond appropriately, Understanding the motivation behind the criticism can be a vital step. If the criticism comes from a place of genuine concern or a desire to see you improve, it may be worth considering the feedback with an open mind.

    Also Read: Toxic Positivity: Why being “Positive” is not always the solution?

    2. Don’t take it personally

      Often the criticism is a reflection of the speaker themselves rather than you! “When someone is overly critical, chances are it has more to do with them than you”, says Erica Cramer, a licensed social worker. She goes on to add that, “Sometimes people are critical because they’re projecting their own insecurities on you.” So even when the criticism angers you, try to think if those words are really about you.

      3. Don’t React, Respond

        Whether it is or is not about you, it is quite natural to feel angry or hurt after receiving negative criticism. In that moment, take a moment for yourself. Take a deep breath, pause for a moment to collect your thoughts, and respond thoughtfully rather than reactively. Chances are, we might act defensively and say something, which might further escalate the situation. To avoid it, address what you are feeling within. Be present for yourself. You can resume the conversation once you are comfortable and calm enough.

        Sometimes, if the criticism is extremely inconsistent with reality, instead of reacting aggressively, you can respond with- “I will consider your opinion”, even when you know you won’t. It will make the other person feel heard. You can also respond with- “That is a point”, indicating they made a point, but it may not be right for you.

        Also Read: Toxic Workplaces: Signs, Impact and Solution

        4. Address your discomfort

          If you think you did better on the previous step, understanding “why” the criticism was so bothersome. Has it struck a chord with an inner belief? If so, proceed to explore what it is. Ask yourself leading questions. This will not only contribute to your growth, but also ensure that you remain there for yourself.

          5. Prefer assertive response over an Aggressive one

            When addressing criticism, aim to respond assertively rather than aggressively. Assertiveness involves expressing your thoughts, feelings, and boundaries in a clear and respectful manner, without resorting to hostility or defensiveness. Use “I” statements to express how the criticism makes you feel and assert your perspective without attacking the other person. For example, “I appreciate your feedback, but I disagree with your assessment” conveys assertiveness while maintaining respect for the other person’s opinion.

            6. Separate the Feedback from the Delivery

              Sometimes, criticism can be poorly delivered or come across as harsh or insensitive. Try to separate the substance of the feedback from how it was delivered. Focus on the underlying message rather than getting caught up in the tone or delivery. By doing so, you can glean valuable insights from the feedback without allowing yourself to be overly affected by the delivery style.

              7. Seek Clarification and Constructive Feedback

                If the criticism is vague or unclear, don’t hesitate to seek clarification. Ask specific questions to better understand the other person’s concerns and what they would like to see change. Additionally, inquire if they have any suggestions for improvement or constructive feedback to offer. By actively engaging in dialogue and seeking constructive input, you demonstrate a willingness to learn and grow from the experience.

                Also Read: 9 Signs of a Toxic Relationship

                8. Avoid them

                  When everything fails, avoid them. Although complete avoidance may not always be feasible or desirable, limiting contact with consistently critical individuals can be a valid form of self-care and boundary-setting.By reducing exposure to their negativity, individuals can protect their mental well-being and maintain a healthier emotional balance. While avoidance may offer temporary relief, it’s essential to address underlying issues and develop effective coping strategies for dealing with criticism constructively when necessary.


                  Dealing with critical people can be challenging, but by approaching criticism with an open mind, emotional intelligence, and assertiveness, you can navigate these interactions more effectively. These strategies might be useful to ease the tension in the situation and prevent it going in the wrong direction. Remember to stay calm and respond assertively while maintaining respect for the other person’s perspective. By focusing on self-reflection and growth, you can turn criticism into an opportunity for personal development and stronger relationships.

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