Dealing with Critical People – A Challenge At Any Age

No matter what your age dealing with critical people as you get older can be downright painful.  The issue for older adults is that no matter how tactfully you attempt to address the criticism you are viewed as just plain grumpy or even nasty.

Constructive criticism is fine, but some people are so relentlessly negative that they can suck the joy out of life. It seems that no matter what happy news you have to share, they are guaranteed to find a dark cloud cover your sunny day.

Here are 6 strategies you can use to deal with supercritical people.

1. Don’t Take It Personally,

Not as easy as it sounds, but it is something to remember.

First and for most – don’t take their reaction personally. Even if it is a relative or one of your children.  It’s a safe bet that it’s not you, it’s them. Some people when life is not the way they want it to be just hug their negativity around them like a security blanket, and it colors their view of the world. They criticize everything because that is what fits their view of the world at that moment in time. When things are not going well for them they want to feel as though they are not alone. So being critical of you fills the void. If you watch how they treat other people at the same moment you’ll see you are not the only one. It’s guaranteed they will criticize everybody, not just you.

2. Listen to The Message

Most often their message is obscure without substance. Maybe they are just tactless, or bad at expressing themselves rather than just mean. Try to see past the messenger to understand what is really being said, otherwise you might miss out on some underlying message.

3. Accept the Feedback

You can decide to take crucial feedback on its own merits. That is, as a source of honest feedback. At least with hypercritical people what you see is what you get! If you can see past the blunt delivery, you may be able to find a kernel of truth that can improve the way you do things.

4. Deal with Your Discomfort

Criticism never feels good. Try to when hearing it and examining your own level of discomfort could provide you insight about your own level of self-confidence. Does the negative feedback trigger a recognition deep within you? Maybe it subconsciously reminds you of a past event, but maybe there’s a ring of truth in the criticism. Let discomfort sit for a while and see what it’s telling you.

5. If You Can’t Take the Heat, Stay Out of the Kitchen

We’ve all heard that saying, but that is easier said than done in the current environment. However, you can make yourself aware of people who do not share your view of the world. That said, it is healthier if you can listen to the criticism and review it objectively without allow it to negatively affect you. Quite frankly if you only hang around people who agree with you you will be the loser. However, if you are a sensitive person the best position is for you would be to not ask for advice or expose yourself to their negativity. These type of individuals are not likely to change, so you need to take control and avoid such conversations. Don’t share good news if you know they’ll throw cold water on it, don’t seek their praise if you know you won’t get it.

6. Stay Out of Their Way

In most cases, you have a choice about how to deal with negative people. You can decide not to engage with their negativity, you can ignore them, or you can just avoid them altogether. Once again easier said than done, especially given the current pandemic.  But If you must have contact with someone who is a negative person at home or some unavoidable environment try to simply listen, not react and don’t engage with them. Otherwise do the best you can to avoid getting into situations where you are exposed to such, negativity.

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