How to handle critical people
Posted by mandyf on January 23, 2013
Trying to figure out how to handle critical people can be quite a challenge. Generally speaking there are three schools of thought on what is the best way to handle a critical person, and each is effective in its own way. You first have to identify a little about the nature of the critical person you are dealing with and then which tactic will best work when dealing with them. It is also important to realize that no method is sure fire and that in some cases there is little you can do. Before giving up completely though, see if any of these tactics will work for you.
The first step is identifying the nature of the critical person. This is actually a bit easier than it sounds. Are they a person which is only critical towards you in a limited scope, perhaps regarding your financial responsibility or they type of people you date? Are they critical of every aspect of your life and happy to point out everything they disagree with that you do every opportunity they get? Are they the hit and run critic that only seems to nag you when they have little else to do or they are having their own personal problems they don’t feel like dealing with? Depending on what type of critic they are will weigh heavily on which tactic has the best odds of working when dealing with them.
For hit and run critics or even the targeted critic who nitpicks only one or two things you can try to simply dismiss them. Listen to what they have to say, nod and smile a lot and tell them you will think about what they have said. In some cases this is enough to make them feel as if they have achieved their goal and they will let the issue drop. They walk away happy and you avoid a needless argument. You already know that you aren’t going to take their advice, but they don’t need to know that.
A second alternative is to just tell whoever it is that you have your affairs in the order you want them, and that while you appreciate their advice you really do not want to hear it at this time. This is a bit brusque, but cutting someone off before they get on a roll is often the only way to handle to handle them. Sure their feelings may be a bit hurt at first but if they are a mature person they will get over and get the message that you are not interested in their advice.
The final way to deal with critical people is usually the harshest: The showdown at the OK Corral method. When you have a person that cannot stop criticizing you no matter what you have said or done in the past, you have to get tough and throw down. Tell them point blank you are tired of hearing them criticize you and that it has to end if you are going to have any type of healthy relationship. It is likely they will argue back, or tell you they are just trying to help or doing it for your own good, but stand firm and stick to your guns. Confrontation is rarely a pleasurable experience, and yes it may lead to some hard feelings, but when you’ve had enough you’ve had enough and you have to do what is best for your own sanity.
Whatever type of critical person you are dealing with, or what method you choose, just be sure to make sure the tactic fits the person. Don’t go straight to confrontation if it isn’t necessary. Most critical people don’t even realize what they are doing annoys you so much so it may be a bit of a shock to them. Be courteous and nice until it’s time to be harsh, and trust in this fact; when that time comes you will know it.