7 Ways To Deal With Critical People Before They Drive You Up A Wall

You deserve better.

sad woman Photographee.Eu / Shutterstock

We've all dealt with a critical friend at some point.

That person who seems to always see the bad in everything. The person who is constantly complaining. The person who attempts to manipulate you to get what they want emotionally. 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 easy to get sucked into their negativity. You may start to feel overwhelmed and feel as if they're dragging you down.


The good news is that there are very effective ways to deal with these types of people that will take you from feeling like a doormat to a strong and empowered individual. And it begins with understanding how to deal with critical people in your life.

RELATED: 9 Sad Signs You're Letting A Toxic Person Get The Best Of You


Why are people so critical?

Most people who are over-critical have issues with themselves. People who are critical use it as a way to project their own insecurities on other people.

It could be anxiety, and criticizing other people is used as a coping mechanism in order to manage it. It could also be spurred on by low self-esteem, insecurity, a sense of superiority, or even a history of receiving criticism in childhood.

How do you know if someone is criticizing you?

1. They attack your character.

One sure sign that someone is criticizing you is if they specifically attack your character.

Yes, every once in a while someone may actually have an issue with something you do. However, if someone makes it seem that you are only that bad thing about your character, they are criticizing you.


2. They shift blame.

Many overcritical people will always avoid or try to hide their own flaws. One way they deflect is by shifting blame onto you. They do this to hide their insecurities and take it out on another person.

It's a red flag when they do this, all so they can avoid taking responsibility for their actions.

3. They focus on your shortcomings.

A valid criticism would focus on how to improve instead of defining a person. But an overly critical person will weaponize your shortcomings to attack you and make you feel inferior.

They reduce a person to their failure without offering a helpful solution or ways to make it better.

RELATED: 'Bad' Personality Traits Explained — And 12 That Are Actually 'Good'


How To Deal With Critical People

1. Realize and understand why this person is acting the way they are.

Think of it as a person being unfulfilled, and their inner child is coming out and screaming for attention. This shift in perception isn't 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're trying to come up with ways to deal with this person, ask 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 just an adult.

This isn't 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.

2. Learn how to set boundaries.

We teach people how to treat us. Suppose you're a parent, guardian or teacher. In that case, 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 your friendships and relationships? You can do this by simply making the person aware of what is acceptable and what isn't acceptable. 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 with a non-constructive critical comment or a 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?"

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. Follow through with it if they break that boundary you set.


Learning to do this with very difficult people who don't have any sense of boundaries can feel very draining. You may also feel like they just don't "get it" and will never "get it." Know that it isn't your responsibility to teach them; they must learn this for themselves.

3. Create distance if the negativity becomes too overwhelming.

Doing this will probably be difficult, because you may feel guilty for not associating with this person very much. This is especially hard with friendships that have lasted years. 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, you allow yourself to grow and receive the support you truly need.

To do this, it may involve taking some serious risks, like taking a new job or moving away. It's risky and can feel very scary, but if you feel and know deep down in your heart that it's what you need, then you will never regret it.


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

RELATED: The Simple 'Brain Trick' For Dealing With Mean People

4. Don't take their criticisms personally.

While it can feel difficult to not take the criticisms of a friend personally, especially because this person is supposed to be someone you can rely on, you must resist allowing their comments to sink in.

It's always best to be the bigger person and let things go. And while there is a limit to that emotional exercise, try not to take their criticism personally.

Remember that it's not you that is causing their negativity. This person is unhappy with themselves, and it's not your job to fix that.


5. Take a breather.

If you feel someone is being overly critical of you, stop and take a beat before you react.

A study from 2020 found that anger is a natural response to criticism, but that you have to take a moment to process what is happening to respond in a productive way.

So, instead of reacting immediately and viscerally, take a few seconds to sit with your feelings and thoughts. This way, you can articulate it to the person without furthering their negativity.


6. Don't react at all.

Most of the time, people who are overly critical are looking for you to react. They want you to get upset and throw a fit.

But another way to deal with critical people is to not give them that satisfaction.

One way to stop a critical person in their tracks is to not give into their bait. Instead, give a vague or boring response like, "I'll consider that," or, "That is a point." A critical person won't know what to do with that and it will shut them up instantly.

7. Avoid them completely.

Finally, if push comes to shove and none of these tactics work for you, it may just be time to cut that person out of your life. Ignore and avoid them, because they don't add anything to your life, and frustrate you or make you feel horrible.


You need to take care of your mental and emotional health before helping others, and if this critical person is getting to you, removing them from your life may be the best solution.

RELATED: 5 Signs You Have A Strong Personality (But Are Also Super-Sensitive)

Jennifer Twardowski is a writer and Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. Her work has been featured in Huffington Post, Elephant Journal, and others.