How to Deal with People Judging You and Your Work

George J. Ziogas

When you judge another you don’t define them you define yourself

Image: dsalmo/Adobe Stock

No matter how you live your life, whether you’re a stay at home parent, someone who travels as much as possible or a corporate shark with little time for anything else, there are people out there judging you and they’re judging your work.

It truly doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, there will always be someone watching and judging. It likely isn’t personal, it rarely is, when others judge it’s usually a projection of their own insecurities. They project their negativity, their fears, and ultimately, there’s nothing you can do to stop it. All you can do is deal with it.

The question is how?

The Biggest Critic

It’s easy to complain about external criticism, but have you ever looked closer to home to find your biggest critic? Generally speaking, life’s biggest critic lives within you. Every single time you work up the courage to take action and move your life forward you tear yourself down. It’s self-criticism that gets to you and once you’re comfortable with criticizing yourself, it becomes a whole lot easier to take the criticism of others to heart.

Think about it. When you have a fantastic idea, what do you do? Do you immediately tell all of your closest friends all about it? Or do you keep it to yourself and get things moving before you share it? There’s a good chance it’s the latter and I want you to think about why. It’s because you’re worried about how they will respond. After all, you yourself have built up criticism in your own mind.

While a lot of people have blogs now, so many people struggle with hitting the publish button. It’s hard to put yourself out there and risk judgment. A lot of people will write posts and save them to drafts and it takes them weeks to build up the courage to publish one. Some people may even limit the comments for fear of the response they’ll receive.

You can allow internalized fear and criticism to hold you back, or you can act regardless. Generally speaking, the random haters will throw criticism your way and move on.

All you have to do is ignore them.

Yes, that’s much easier said than done when you’re desperate for validation. So, how do you deal with people judging you and your work?

Don’t Take It Personally

This is probably the most difficult piece of advice you’ll ever hear. You can’t take judgment or criticism personally even though it feels profoundly personal. It’s easy to assume that someone’s behavior is about you, especially when it’s you that’s being judged.

However, the reality is they criticize everything, everyone, including themselves. They may act as though they know everything, have everything, and are the greatest thing on two legs. The reality? They don’t feel that way truly, they just act like they do because they’re deeply insecure.

When you’re faced with judgment, of you or your work, it’s rarely about you, it’s almost always about the person who is doing the judging.

Response In Compassion

No one is born to be a judgmental person. No one is born to be a nasty person. It’s a learned trait, one that we pick up from the people around us or society at large. When you reframe it this way and think about what could possibly have happened to someone to turn them into a nasty or judgmental person it becomes much easier to extend compassion in response to the judgment.

I’m sure you’re rolling your eyes because why on earth would you be compassionate when someone is judging you? You can’t change the way the other person behaves, you can only regulate your response, and isn’t compassion always the better option?

It’s up to you to choose the high road. And, you never know how your compassion might influence their future interactions.

Take A Lesson

Life is a lesson and when faced with judgment you can search for the lesson in it. It’s a lot easier to deal with judgmental people when you view them as a lesson to learn and a challenge to overcome.

Will you respond by matching negativity with negativity? Or will you rise above it and be a better person?

You can’t make it through life without running into a judgmental person, and there’s a good chance that you’ve been a judgmental person at one point. So, what else can you do but take the lesson and move forward?

Rise Above It

Your first instinct when someone criticizes is probably to protect yourself so you get defensive. Or you may go on the attack in a bid to protect yourself. Regardless, as satisfying as this response may feel at the time it drags you down to their level and makes you just as bad as them. If you dislike their behavior then you can’t give in and join in on the same behavior, you have to rise above it.

The majority of extremely judgmental people are deeply self-critical. You don’t know what negative thoughts are flying through their head. For example, an overweight person who is a vocal critic of overweight people.

They laugh it off and say they can make jokes because they’re also overweight, but they’re simply using humor to deflect from their own insecurities about their body. Sometimes the judgment they offer is a vocalization of their own self-criticism.

Reframe & Adjust Your Attitude

Your boss is deeply critical of you, it feels as though every minute of your workday revolves around their judgment. That would exhaust anyone, especially when you spend five days a week with this person.

However, you can reframe the situation and change how you think about it. Rather than focusing on the judgment they offer, think about how lucky you are to have an awesome job with co-workers you appreciate.

Don’t focus on the judgment, focus on the positives around it. Rather than focusing on the judgment of others, you can focus on the positive attention and support you receive from the people you love.

Which brings us to your attitude. More specifically, an attitude for gratitude. You can be grateful for the fact that you’re not a bitter, angry, judgmental person.

You can be grateful that your parents didn’t tear you down and turn you into the type of person who judges. As difficult as it is, you can find a silver lining if you look hard enough.

Final Thoughts

This is perhaps the most important piece of advice I can offer you. Just become someone is judging you doesn’t mean that they’re correct. You aren’t stupid because someone said you are. You aren’t inept because someone said you are.

You aren’t a failure because someone said you are. It’s simply the opinion of one person. Never get caught up in believing that someone’s opinions are facts, especially when there’s no evidence to back them up. Don’t buy into their negativity.

Let them judge if they want to judge, but you don’t have to give their opinions or views oxygen. The only power their opinions and judgments have is the power you give it.

Don’t allow it any sway in your life.

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New York, NY

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