How to Face Manipulative Criticism

How to Face Manipulative Criticism

Last update: 26 December, 2016

How do you handle criticism? Most people aren’t very comfortable with it, and that’s completely normal. Criticism can be destructive, and in some cases, manipulative.

Differentiating between constructive and manipulative criticism can be a difficult task. Thinking of the word criticism itself can provoke a certain feeling of internal rejection.

“Criticism is often made in a destructive, negative, and intimidating way. The results are clear: the person can hardly be seen as constructive, which is felt as aggression.”

-Mª Jesús Álava Reyes-

So today, learn how to face criticism, especially the manipulative kind. You can’t let it affect you.

The origin of criticism

Why do people criticize? What is the objective? If you stop to think about it, you might find some answers, or you might find none. In general, there are three principal motives for criticism:

  • Trying to change a situation that bothers you, worries you, or makes you uncomfortable.
  • Trying to strengthen your relationship with another person because you’re afraid it’s deteriorating.
  • Wanting the other person to accept the criticism.

Don’t let praise go to your head, and don’t let criticism go to your heart.

These are the three principal motives, but why doesn’t it function as it should? Why does it turn into something negative for the person who receives it?

The truth is that we make a few mistakes when we criticize. First of all, we don’t always pick the right moment, or sometimes the criticism is forced and unnatural, which tends to be accompanied by unconscious aggression.

We also tend to give unnecessary advice and make comparisonsSometimes the message we’re trying to convey doesn’t have enough strength, which means it would have been better to not say it at all. This can all negatively affect the person being criticized, which can wear down on the relationship and cause self-esteem and trust issues.

girl looking into mirror


Be like fog

We all know how fog can swallow everything around it, absorb it, make it disappear. Fog is indestructible, and it only disappears when it wants to.

That’s how we should be. We should be like a cloud of fog in the face of all manipulative criticism that seeks to harm and destroy us. People who criticize in this way have serious self-esteem issues that they wish to camouflage by manipulatively criticizing others.

But if you use the fog technique, you’ll be unfazed, just like fog. Their words won’t change your state of being, and eventually the person will get bored and desist, which is the goal.

People criticize what they don’t like about themselves.

It’s clear that you can’t make a counterattack, because the result would be disastrous. You can’t stoop to their level, because that would just encourage more criticism and make you weaker. Just be like fog and you’ll be undeterred. It’s normal to be affected by it, but be strong and at least pretend that you’re not. Sooner or later, you’ll see that the other person will get tired, and their words will fly away with the wind.

man tangled in vines

If you’ve ever gone through something like this, you should be aware that even though the other person wants to make you feel inferior, it’s actually them who’s inferior to you. Their own lack of confidence is what makes them act that way. It sounds contradictory, but it’s true. People who are full of negativity try to make other people look bad so that they can feel better about themselves.

“I have yet to find anybody who criticizes themselves with the same determination that they criticize others.”


You don’t deserve to be the object of manipulative criticism. And if you’ve realized that you are the manipulative critic, fix it! Your problems with self-esteem and confidence shouldn’t affect your relationships. It’s nobody else’s fault. Manipulative criticism will only work if you let it affect you. So be like fog and watch the harmful criticism disappear.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.