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How to Deal with People Who are Judgmental

Judgment is a byproduct of personal insecurities. How we view others, or they view us, directly reflects self-perception. If we judge someone's body image, we are likely very critical of our own. If someone judges our financial status, they probably view their financial status as an indicator of self-worth and success because they are insecure. If you believe someone is being judgmental, instead of taking it personally, know that it isn’t about criticizing you or others.

Insecure critics find temporary pleasure in making others feel miserable or encouraging them to join in the judgment of another to validate their wrongdoing and ultimately make them feel better about themselves. All of which are likely happening at a subconscious level.

A person who is judgmental tends to bring others down because they have developed a victim or fixed mentality. If they believe happiness and success elude them, they will do whatever it takes to bring others down with them so they are not alone in their suffering. To avoid confronting their poor behavior, they will often justify their critical remarks by telling themselves that the other person deserved it or that they (the judger) were only trying to "help."

Tips for dealing with people who are being judgmental

If someone is judging you personally:

  • Don't give them the pleasure of showing them that their remarks affect you through your body language, facial expression, or reaction.

  • Remind yourself this is an insecurity on their end.

  • Show them you don’t care is by not defending yourself.

It seems counterintuitive. However, the more you protect yourself, the more they know that they are getting under your skin—at least in their mind. Instead of defending your case, gently smile and say, “that's interesting that you feel/think that way,” and move on. This conveys to them that you have nothing to prove to them. The more they hound you after that, the more you know you're winning because they are trying their best to get a reaction out of you. If this continues, you might say something like, “wow, that bothers you. Is that how you feel about yourself? Because personally, it doesn't bother me; I am perfectly content.” Eventually, they'll get tired of speaking to someone they can't get a rise out of and likely move on to someone else.

If they are criticizing another in front of you:

  • It is wise not to get involved, even if you slightly agree with them.

While they may have instigated the attack, you can easily be the scapegoat in the future if you choose to get involved in the conversation.

  • The best thing to do is reply with a completely neutral response like, “hmm.” Or you could opt-out of the conversation by saying, “I don't have an opinion on the matter,” or “I prefer to focus on my issues than getting caught up in others,” or “I find it's best not to get involved when you don't know the facts.”

The point is, stay out of it. Don't give them a crumb to feed on. An example of a crumb could be as simple as saying, “I see your point,” or “yeah, you're right.”

You've taken the bate, and now you're in. I recommend avoiding the buy-in altogether.

In summary, when dealing with people who are judgmental:

  • Know that it's often a reflection of how they view themselves.

  • Don’t take it personally.

  • Don't give any indication that they are getting to you.

  • Don't feel you have to explain yourself.

  • And finally, don't play into their judgment of others.

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