How to Silence Your Critics
THE "HONEST" CRITIC
This is the person who considers it her divine right — and duty — to speak
the truth at all costs. ("That new dress makes you look a little
hippy." "Damn, your dog is fat. What are you feeding him — gravy?"
"I would have never let my kid get away with that.") And you're not
supposed to be offended because, hey, she's just being honest — and isn't
honesty a virtue? Not necessarily. "A friend's mother was diagnosed with
breast cancer, and one of my other friends said to me and some mutual friends
that the woman got it because she wasn't a healthy eater," recalls Rhett
Pruitt, 35, of Mountain Rest, SC. "I was so angry. I was already feeling
very upset about my friend's mom, and hearing those insensitive words made
things even worse."
This type of person is self-centered, says Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., author of
It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction. "She says the
first thing that pops into her mind — just like a 2-year-old — with no regard
for hurt feelings or consequences." Or she's provocative just for effect,
hoping to cause a stir by dropping verbal bombs no one else would dream of
But here's the rub: Telling this walking sledgehammer that her harsh words
hurt your or anyone else's feelings may play right into her need to be the
brave truth teller, thus stoking an already inflamed ego. So to call her on her
bad behavior, say something like, "I guess I'm one of those people who
prefers tact and empathy to 'honesty,'" suggests Tessina. Or simply say
nothing at all. "Let her comment hang in the air like a bad smell,"
Tessina suggests. "This person craves attention and drama. She can't get it
if you don't take the bait." After your meaningful silence, just say,
pointedly, "Oh," then change the subject.
THE CHANGE-AVERSE CRITIC
It doesn't matter if you're launching an eBay business or considering
becoming a redhead — this critic is standing by with a bullhorn to let you know
that your idea is probably a crazy/dangerous/financially fraught/selfish