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Sean Cate
Sean Cate
December 7, 2023 ·  2 min read

8 Ways of Dealing With People Who Try to Put You Down

Dealing with criticism or negative comments from others can be challenging, leaving us feeling shaken and questioning our self-worth. Whether it’s disparagement humor, mean-spirited comments, or manipulative behavior, it can affect us deeply when someone tries to put you down. Here are eight effective strategies to navigate and manage such situations with grace and confidence.

1. Listen and Understand

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When faced with criticism or when someone tries to put you down, the immediate reaction might be defensiveness. Instead, take a moment to listen actively before responding. Harvard Business School Professor Amy C. Edmondson suggests that genuine questions show you care and help understand the other person’s viewpoint.

Read: 15 Bad Things That Happen When You’re Too Nice

2. Ask Clarifying Questions – Did they mean to Put you Down?

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Engage in dialogue by asking questions that clarify the situation. This approach helps avoid confrontational language and encourages constructive conversation. Phrases like “I’d like to better understand [X], would you share more?” can help bridge gaps. If they still meant to put you down, then we can proceed further down the list.

3. Stay Focused on Facts

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In situations of friction, focusing on objective facts can help navigate emotions. While staying objective, being empathetic and apologizing if warranted can show your willingness to understand the other person’s feelings.

4. Choose Direct Communication

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Misinterpretation often arises in written communication. Opt for face-to-face or phone conversations whenever possible to avoid misunderstanding. Maybe they didn’t even mean to try to put you down. How you convey your message is as vital as the message itself.

Read: 10 Red Flags That Someone Can Not Be Trusted, According To Science

5. Seek Perspective If They Put You Down Hard

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Consulting a trusted third party can provide a fresh, unbiased perspective on the situation. Their insights might offer valuable angles you hadn’t considered, helping you respond more effectively.

6. Consider the Source

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Not all criticisms hold equal weight. Evaluate the credibility of the person giving feedback. Not all attempts to put you down are equal. Sometimes, negative remarks might stem from the other person’s insecurities rather than actual issues with you.

7. Respond with Composure

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When faced with manipulative behavior or passive-aggressive comments, maintain your composure. Using the “gray rock technique,” respond calmly with non-committal phrases, subtly deflecting their attempts to incite reactions.

Read: 10 Phrases To Remember When Someone Is Rude To You

8. Trust Your Instincts

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Ultimately, trust your judgment and beliefs. Don’t let others define your worth or influence your decisions. Just because they tried to put you down, doesn’t mean they have to succeed. Maintain your boundaries and resist compromise when it comes to your values and goals.

The Bottom Line

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Managing criticism and negative remarks involves a blend of empathy, composure, and assertiveness. By adopting these strategies, you empower yourself to navigate such situations effectively, maintaining your self-respect and composure in challenging moments. Remember, handling criticism is a skill that grows stronger with practice.

Keep Reading: How Narcissists Play the Victim and Twist the Story


  1. 6 Ways To Respond To Mean-Spirited Criticism (And Maintain Your Self-Respect).” Forbes. Avery Blank. September 25, 2018.
  2. How To Deal With Sneaky Manipulative People.” LinkedIn. Isaiah Hankel, Ph.D. March 15, 2015.