WBISCT Pty Ltd – Enterprise Architecture Consulting and Training

Why Are Some People So Critical?

by Steven Berglas

Harsh critics are often (editor’s note: but not always) talented, intelligent, and productive people. Unfortunately, they have a flaw that compels them to disparage others – almost, at times, as though they are diagnosing an illness in need of eradication. It seems they’re living according to the famous quip by Mark Twain: “Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits.”


In the language of the self-help and recovery movements, these folks are often suffering from a disorder known as, “If You Spot It, You Got It [IYSIYGI].” It works like this: You notice that colleague X has what is, in your mind, is an affliction. You then take it upon yourself to castigate him for his affliction — irrespective of whether or not it impairs his on-the-job performance or has a negative effect on group morale.

What makes this dynamic so ugly is that unbeknownst to the person under attack, the critic is being driven to criticise by a repressed-and-intolerable feeling that he’s “got” what he deplores in others.

For instance, years ago a client of mine and I were having dinner when he asked if I could help with a dilemma: “Diane, my comptroller, a woman 100% dedicated to the business, is also nastier than a junk yard dog. She doesn’t just monitor spending; she beats people up for what she sees as waste, failure to stick to protocol, issues with record-keeping… nothing major, but stuff that is technically wrong. If she assumes you are fudging parts of expense reports — say, claiming a lunch that’s not 100% business-related — she’ll attack you like Muhammad Ali in his prime. She assaults my EVP of sales so regularly, he vows to quit if I don’t fire her.”

My client was not prepared for my response: “I’m willing to bet Diane’s cooking the books so she can pocket cash.”

After catching his breath, my client took my bet. “Diane’s so honest, she could be a priest if the Pope allowed women to serve in that role,” he said.

But within a year, he was obligated to buy me a rare box of Cuban cigars after losing our bet: it turned out that Diane had been embezzling funds for 20 years.

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Editor’s note:

People with social anxiety disorder (SAD) are irrationally fearful of criticism and rejection. You may worry constantly that others are thinking negatively about you or that they do not like you.

The main focus of cognitive therapy is to convince you that your fears are unfounded—and that people are much less critical and rejecting than you expect.

However, some of the time, you will experience criticism and rejection, and it is important to be able to cope.

Certain type of social psychopaths like the narcissistic pervert, hates generosity, noble sentiments, or any moral qualities. “They take great pleasure in transgression. They like to hurt the other person’s morality or to pervert them, and to break the law… They also over criticise others irrationally. They are the type of people who will, through passive aggressiveness, give unwanted negative feedback, comment, response to take down the work and/or achievement of others as being 100% bad, useless etc.

If you fall victim of such people, they see you or your work as totally useless, without any discernment. You probably dealt with those like a parent who might have said to you: “you will never be anything useful, you are useless etc.” or a work colleague or manager: “you are worthless, your work is well below standard..” etc. or a client or audience: “this is the worst performance ever, there was absolutely nothing to take from what you presented, sold…” etc.

As you can see those sick minds, will simply throw the baby with the bath water, their intent is not to provide constructive criticism but to insult, offend, hurt their target in a way that they believe will keep them out of reach from the law or any kind of retribution… They are the office bullies, the horrible member of family you resent seeing again at those “mandatory” family reunions, the heckler in a show, or anyone you had to deal with in your daily life at some stage that put you down in some way… At work, they are the most toxic individuals, incapable of working in teams, they won’t try to fit in and instead will spend the greatest part of their time disparaging others, no matter who they are. This is a pathology, these people need to consult and get medical attention. There is nothing you can actually do to help or mend their defect.

The best advice from specialists is to ignore them completely and if your interaction is online, then block them indefinitely, delete their details and stop all contact you have with them. There is nothing you need or can get from them that will help you at all. The worst you can do is give them the attention they crave as they will then see they got through to you and you are now wasting valuable energy on them.