Individuals who seem to delight in verbally attacking other people sometimes carry deep-seated emotional scars that may have nothing to do with those they are immediately attacking. Some family members, work colleagues, church affiliates, neighbors, to name a few, may fall into this category of disgruntled individuals. The thought of writing off such people as irritants may have crossed your mind. But did the idea ever strike you that these individuals may be crying out for help? Consider two groups of people with me and judge for yourself.
People who habitually criticize you or are constantly seeking to paint you with a negative brush by saying offensive things either to your face or behind your back get under your skin. One of the common reasons individuals may display such distasteful behavior toward you is that they struggle with past disappointments or failures and your successes may create agonizing flashbacks for them.
How should you disarm these individuals? Your greatest weapon is your emotional security. By understanding your aggressors may be showing up their internal struggles, and what is expressed does not apply to you, your mind can be freed up from the negative effect of the verbal assault. In response, consider looking the disgruntled assailant straight in the eyes and calmly use responses such as, "I am so sorry that you may see yourself in that light" or "I never thought of myself in that manner." Another effective response is to say nothing but just smile and continue with what you are doing.
Never plan an opportune time to tell off or embarrass the person because you would be lowering your high moral standards to bring satisfaction to your aggressor. Try as much as possible to wisely build a rapport with the individual by countering their negatives with positive and pleasant expressions. It may surprise you at the high level of respect you may receive over time from such a person. I have seen it work several times. Negative responses may only offer fuel for the troubled person to continue their undesirable attacks.
Boastful people display their disgruntled nature differently from the habitual criticizer. The boaster or proud individual often stands out like a sore thumb almost everywhere he or she goes. You can easily spot the braggarts because they often like to hog the show, give the impression they know everything, talk much about themselves and their achievements, and usually use subtle belittling language and humiliating attitudes to cut others down to size.
Boastfulness must be perceived as hidden crutches that prop up people’s fragile insecurity walls and also mask their inner emotional pain. The disgruntled nature of the self-seeking boaster frequently explodes when someone publicly or privately refuses to stroke their ego. People are usually shocked at the childish behavior that emerges when the brittle insecurities the proud person possess come under pressure.
One of the most effective ways of disarming proud people is not to satisfy their demands for affirmation, which is the fuel that helps drive them on the highway of a false sense of security. Counter-attacking them would not help them out of the depth of their crushed emotions. Attempting to build a relationship with them without condoning their behavior may be a better option. It may allow you to understand why such a behavior flows from the individual and also create an opportunity to encourage them to seek help for their hidden concerns.
I remember consistently showing kindness to an individual who verbally attacked me over an extended period of time. I never surrendered to the verbal abuse but kept up exhibiting a positive attitude. Over time I got to know some of the childhood hurts that scarred that person’s life and help was provided. We are still good friends today.
In life, it is almost impossible to escape disgruntled people. When they verbally attack you, try to look beyond their external uncomfortable behavior and understand that may be hurting deeply on the inside. By extending kindness to them, you may be surprised at their change in behavior.
Marriage and Family Life Consultant