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How to Deal With Someone Who Criticizes

by Erica Loop

Whether it's a friend, family member, romantic partner or acquaintance, someone who is constantly critical can negatively impact your self-esteem. From the subtle to the snarky, critical words can undermine your ability to focus, do your job or feel like an equal in a relationship. Mastering the ability to understand, deflect and get over criticism can make a difficult situation more manageable and help you to keep your confidence afloat.

Delve deeper and try to understand the reason behind the criticism. Take the other person's perspective and consider what her reasons for saying these seemingly mean-spirited words are. For example, your friend tells you that your idea to take a job in another city is a stupid move. It's possible that she simply doesn't want you to move or is jealous of your career success. Show empathy for her. Explain that you know she doesn't want you to go, but the two of you will always be friends.

Separate the fact from the fiction. If you're sure that the comments are unfounded and mean in nature, ignore them. Think about what the critic is saying and your qualities or behaviors that contradict it. For example, your co-worker says that your work is nothing compared to his. Remind yourself of the accolades that your boss lavishes on you or the thumbs up that your client gave you.

Admit that the criticism may have some validity. Listen to the words that the other person is saying. Look inward to see if you really do have an area in which you could improve. For example, if your best friend tells you that you make horrible choices when it comes to men, chances are that her critical words are actually meant to help you. If this is the case, listen to what she has to say and use her criticism as a jumping off point for evaluating if you need to make changes.

Tell your critic how his words make you feel. While this isn't necessary if the critic is an acquaintance or someone with whom you have little to no connection, communicating with a friend, co-worker, romantic partner or family member is necessary to sustain the relationship. For example, your sister says that you look terrible in your new dress. Tell her that this statement hurts your feelings and makes you feel down on yourself.

Turn off the little voice in your head that lets the critic win. If the critic is relentless and won't let up, don't allow his mean-spirited words follow you throughout your day. Indulging his critical words by arguing or feeling down on yourself gives what he's saying power. Resist the desire to get defensive. If the critic won't let up and cannot be reasoned with, walk away with your head held high.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

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