Working with the Constant Critic

It takes all kinds of people to make up this world. 

Some characters, however, are easier than others to work with.

Often the more difficult personalities to work with become pronounced in our minds, taking up space and energy, and generally making working with them unpleasant, and sometimes unbearable.

One such personality is the Constant Critic. These people tend to be reactive, overly critical, and paranoid. Their criticism is a way of deflecting criticism from themselves – their mantra is often: The first point of defence is attack.

They are high in self-control, straightforwardness, self-reliance and self-confidence. They can come across as hostile, prickly and critical. They constantly look for what’s not there or being done. They can be stubborn, and expect loyalty, yet hardly ever show appreciation for what you do. They are highly focused on getting things done, and what’s to be done, so they overlook what’s been achieved. Their self-awareness is often low, so they are unaware of the impact of their behaviour on those around them, and themselves.

Alternatively, they can be low in adaptability, optimism, and empathy. If it’s not done their way, they can become critical. They struggle to see the gold in people, and the progress made.

It is a form of self-defence, often born from childhood experiences of the same behaviour.

This type of behaviour can leave you feeling under pressure, constantly critiqued, and leave you feeling like you need to justify everything. You often feel ‘wrong’ or ‘not good enough’.

So how do you manage these people?

Martyn Newman, author of Emotional Capitalists, advises the following in Dealing with the Constant Critic:

  • Depersonalise your response – specific facts only
  • Don’t ‘fight fire with fire’
  • Be calm and straightforward
  • Address issues directly and objectively.
  • Empathise and redirect
    • Acknowledge an understanding of their concerns.
    • Ask them to clarify – “Can you help me understand this”
  • Set your limits I appreciate your perspective, but this is how I felt and I think the approach is counterproductive”

Go well this week.


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