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How to Deal with Critical People

We’ve all dealt with one at some point or another. That person that seems to always see the bad in everything. The person that is CONSTANTLY complaining. The person who attempts to emotionally manipulate you to get what they want. The person who you feel like “nothing is ever good enough” for them.

Depending on who it is and where you are in your own development, it can be very easy to get sucked in to their negativity. You may start to feel overwhelmed and feel as if they are dragging you down.

Well, the good news is that there ARE very effective way to deal with these types of people that will take you from feeling like a doormat to a strong and empowered individual!

First things first, the most important thing to do is to realize and understand where this person is coming from. Meaning, why are they acting the way they are? I always like to think of it as when a person is being very negative its their unfulfilled inner child coming out and screaming for attention. This shift in perception is not only very real (after all, in psychology nearly EVERYTHING ties back to what we didn’t receive as children) but it also helps those of us trying to deal with them.

So when you are trying to come up with ways to deal with this person, as yourself “If this person were a little kid, how would I act? What would I want them to learn and know?” put yourself in the shoes of a parent, guardian, or, simply, just an adult. (Please note: I’m not saying this to sound or influence you to look at them in a condescending way but rather to recognize the reality that their inner child is wounded… just as we all are).

One of the main things that you need to do is learn and know how to set boundaries. We teach people how to treat us. If you are a parent, guardian, or teacher then you should know that this is crucial to creating proper discipline and having a healthy parent-child, guardian-child, or teacher-student relationship.

So how can you set a boundary in these situations? You can do this by simply making the person aware what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. You can do this either through your words, your actions or a mixture of both.

For instance, if someone is being rather negative and directing it at you in some way with a non-constructive critical comment or simply just some pessimistic attitude you can say something like “I don’t appreciate your comment”, “Can you please not talk to me like that, it makes me feel _____?”, or “I don’t feel like your comment is helpful to me right now, can you please stop?”

You can word it in whatever way you feel is appropriate at the time, but the main point is to make it known that you don’t really accept someone talking to you in this way. You may need or want to pair this with an action. Like distancing yourself from the person or not acknowledging them when they do talk. As you normally would with a child, you may want to say “Please don’t talk to me like that, if you continue then…” and state what you will do and follow through with it if they break that boundary that you set.

If you naturally feel guilty for doing this, then know that THIS IS ONLY NATURAL if you grew up in an environment where there was a lot of shame and guilt-tripping from a negative person in your family. Be easy on yourself and remind yourself that you are setting these boundaries in order to take care of YOU. Remind yourself that you do not deserve to be treated this way and set the standards for how you know you deserve to be treated. Make the person aware of that.

Yes, it can feel selfish and feel like you’re really giving some “tough love” but it is necessary to break the trend and make them clearly aware as to how little control they have over you. If you give, then you teach the person that it works and they should keep acting that way because then they know they can feel a sense of power over you.

Learning to do this with very difficult people who don’t have any sense of boundaries can feel very draining. Especially if they are very used to getting their way with you (the longer your relationship has been with this person, the tougher it is… unfortunately).  You may also feel like they just don’t “get it” and will never “get it”. This is NORMAL and perfectly okay. Know that it is NOT YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to teach them. They have to learn this for themselves.  All you can do is set the example and hope they will eventually catch on.

Over time, they WILL gradually recognize that they do not have any power over you and they will attempt to manipulate you and be critical of you less and less. It is likely that it may never be gone 100%, – they will probably still be very negative about life in general but to know that you’ve stopped them from attempting to manipulate you is a fantastic accomplishment!

If this is a person who is extremely negative to the point that it is easily overwhelming, then I encourage you to create a distance as much as you can. Doing this will probably be difficult, because you may feel guilty for not associating with this person very much. However, remember that you need to do what is BEST FOR YOU! You cannot create the life of your dreams if you don’t focus on doing things for yourself first! By creating distance from the negative people in your life and surrounding yourself with more positive and like-minded people then you allow yourself to grow and receive the love and support that you truly need. If you continue to hold on to this negative and non-serving relationships then you will continue to hold yourself back.


To do this, it may involve taking some serious risks – like taking a new job, moving away, even when you have no money or reaching out to new people you don’t know. It is risky and can feel very scary but I can assure you that if you feel and know deep down in your heart that it is what you need then you will never regret it.

Above all, focus on doing things for YOU and your needs. It is the only first step that we can take to truly feel reconnected to ourselves and create the life of our dreams.

Take control of your life when dealing with critical people today!

How as someone been very critical or negative towards you?  What did they say?  How and why was it difficult for  you to handle?

Now, imagine yourself reliving this situation.  What could you have said differently?  What could you have said or done to set a boundary with this person?  How could you have better taken care of yourself?

Share your stories or ideas below!

5 thoughts on “How to Deal with Critical People

  1. This was definitely a timely article for me! I’ve been working on building my brand and digital marketing business, and certain people in my life have really been a buzzkill with the whole endeavor. I’m a firm believer that motivation and positivity are necessary fuels for successful entrepreneurship, and I want to keep my motivation up (not down!). Thanks for giving advice on setting up boundaries without destroying relationships.

  2. Thanks! I’ve been looking for ways on how to deal with this for a very long time, most of my life actually. Keep doing what you love, and keep posting great / helpful posts!


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