People who can’t handle criticism often react with these 9 phrases

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There’s a fine line between receiving criticism and letting it affect you negatively.

Often, people who can’t handle criticism respond in ways that are defensive, avoiding the chance to learn and grow.

The way someone reacts to criticism tells you a lot about their character. And trust me, there are certain phrases that give away a person’s inability to handle criticism.

In this article, we will delve into the 9 phrases often used by those who struggle with accepting critique.

1) “I already knew that”

A key characteristic of people who struggle with criticism is a tendency to deflect it, often by pretending they were already aware of the issue.

They do this to avoid appearing uninformed or unskilled. It’s a defense mechanism that allows them to maintain their self-image while avoiding the discomfort of acknowledging a flaw or mistake.

When someone uses this phrase in response to feedback, it can be a clear sign that they’re not comfortable with criticism.

It’s important to remember though, this reaction often masks a deeper insecurity. The person isn’t necessarily being arrogant or dismissive; they may just be struggling to cope with the feeling of being criticised.

2) “You’re just being too picky”

I remember a time when I was working on a group project at university. We had a team member who consistently turned in work late and of poor quality. When we confronted him about it, his immediate response was “you’re just being too picky”.

This phrase is a classic deflection technique. Instead of acknowledging the feedback and working on improving, the person turns it around to make it seem like the problem lies with the person giving the feedback, not with them.

It’s a way for them to avoid taking responsibility for their actions or lack thereof.

3) “But I’ve always done it this way”

This is another common response from people who struggle with criticism. This phrase reveals a resistance to change and a desire to stick with what’s familiar, even when it’s not effective.

Interestingly, a study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found that people are more likely to stick with their current behavior when they’re under stress or feeling threatened. This could explain why some people default to their usual way of doing things when faced with criticism, rather than considering the possibility of change.

4) “You don’t understand”

This is a tactic used to undermine the validity of the feedback by suggesting that the critic doesn’t have a complete understanding of the situation.

In reality, this phrase is often employed as a shield, used to deflect criticism and avoid having to address the issue at hand. It’s a way of diverting the conversation away from their own shortcomings and towards perceived gaps in the understanding of the person giving the feedback.

5) “You’re just trying to bring me down”

Sometimes, people who can’t handle criticism may resort to using the phrase “you’re just trying to bring me down”. This phrase suggests that the person believes the criticism is not a genuine attempt to help them improve, but rather a personal attack meant to demean or belittle them.

This is a clear sign of someone struggling with criticism, as it shows their inability to separate their personal feelings from the feedback being given. Instead of seeing it as an opportunity for growth, they view criticism as a direct assault on their self-worth.

6) “It’s not my fault”

When criticism becomes too hard to handle, some people resort to this phrase. It is not only a denial of responsibility, but also a cry for understanding.

Using this phrase reflects a person’s difficulty in accepting mistakes they’ve made. It’s an attempt to shield themselves from the pain and embarrassment that often accompany criticism.

It’s heartbreaking to see, as it signifies a struggle with self-esteem and personal growth. The inability to accept responsibility prevents them from learning from their errors and progressing forward.

7) “I can’t do anything right”

“I can’t do anything right” is a phrase I’ve heard and, admittedly, used myself when dealing with criticism. This self-deprecating remark is a defense mechanism used to deflect criticism.

When someone says this, they’re not looking for reassurance or compliments. Instead, it’s an attempt to dismiss the criticism by making it seem as though they’re beyond help. It’s a way of shielding oneself from the sting of criticism by preemptively striking down their own abilities and worth.

It can be a tough cycle to break, but recognizing this pattern is the first step towards handling criticism in a healthier way.

8) “You’re not perfect either”

This is a defense mechanism that attempts to deflect attention away from their own shortcomings by pointing out the flaws in others.

This tit-for-tat response does nothing to address the initial criticism, and instead shifts focus to the critic. It’s an attempt to level the playing field, suggesting that everyone has flaws, so no one has the right to criticize another.

Though it’s true that no one is perfect, this phrase is often used inappropriately as a method of avoiding constructive criticism rather than engaging with it.

9) “Whatever”

Perhaps the most dismissive phrase used by those who can’t handle criticism is “whatever”. This single word reflects a complete refusal to engage with the feedback being given.

“Whatever” is a barrier, a wall that’s put up to shut out criticism. It’s a clear signal that the person isn’t open to considering different perspectives or acknowledging any room for improvement.

This response, more than any other, signifies a person’s struggle with criticism.

Final thoughts: It’s about empathy

Ultimately, understanding and interacting with people who struggle with criticism is a matter of empathy.

The phrase “be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about” holds true here. When someone reacts negatively to criticism, they’re revealing more about their internal struggles than their external behavior.

As we interact with others and perhaps come across these phrases, let’s remind ourselves of this. Instead of taking offense or reacting defensively, we can choose empathy. We can choose to understand that criticism, for some, feels like a personal attack.

With this understanding, we can navigate these interactions more effectively and compassionately. Because at the end of the day, we’re all human. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, our triumphs and our struggles.

So let’s be patient. Let’s be understanding. And above all, let’s be kind.

Ava Sinclair

Ava Sinclair is a former competitive athlete who transitioned into the world of wellness and mindfulness. Her journey through the highs and lows of competitive sports has given her a unique perspective on resilience and mental toughness. Ava’s writing reflects her belief in the power of small, daily habits to create lasting change.

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