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I work in a project/team in my organisation which comprises of 6 people. One of my team members has a very bad habit of criticizing me and it seems that he wants to snub me on every little thing. He loves to give useless advice on almost everything I do. He believes that his way is right.

For example small things like this: I suggested using Tool 'X' in my project which would speed up our task and he said that Tool 'Y' would be great and my suggestion is very wrong. Now, he has started to question my ability to perform my tasks/work and says that the reason I don't get ahead in my role or I don't get any awards for my performance is that I don't ask for opportunities and that I do a lot of mistakes and make fool of myself. As far as I know myself, I’m a good performer.

He questions me on everything I do and says that he has no self-interest in giving me advice and I will benefit from it, whereas I doubt his genuinity? Something always looks fishy to me, when he tries to give me unsolicited advice. This person is one rank above me (not my manager/boss) and has an influencing/dominant/Bossy personality. He wants to control all by himself and wants to make other do what he wants.

How do I deal with my team member ‘professionally’? I know him from 2 years now. It's not that he is new on the team, he is a very old employee of the company and a few months back we started to work on a project together. I've had good personal relations with him and never had any problem with him, until he started to work with me on a team.

Now, Should I answer him back strictly and tell him to mind his own work and don't make comments on my work(so that he backs off once and for all) or should I do nothing?

  • The next time he gives you an unsolicited advice or give any opinion on your work (assuming you work does not directly affect him) tell him he has two options: 1) Do your work for you so he can do it in whatever way it pleases him or 2) Shut up, get back to work and leave you alone. I'm pretty sure there will be no next time after that. – tucaz Jan 14 '16 at 15:22
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Just like energy vampires, critical people can be real downers. They always find some way to derail the mood of the conversation, no matter what you say. You can’t ever remember when’s the last time they gave a compliment or encouragement.

Here are some ways to deal with such people.

- Don’t Take It Personally:

Most of the times, their criticisms reflect more about themselves than about you. They react in this manner because of certain beliefs and frameworks they have about life. You may think the critical person is all out to get you, but it’s more likely he/she reacts in this same manner toward everyone else too.

- Objectify the Comments – Understand the Underlying Message:

Sometimes, I feel critical people are just misunderstood. They may be trying to offer an opinion that’s misinterpreted due to their lack of tact. At times, this swirls into a big misunderstanding. They become labeled as *ssholes even though they really aren’t trying to be.

While some might gasp at this behavior, there is really no reason to take offense, because that’s just how he chooses to communicate. Of course it’d be ideal if everyone communicates in a sociably tactful manner, but ultimately you can’t change how others act. You can however, change how you perceive something.

- Take it as a Source of Honest Feedback:

Honesty can never be underrated. Take their criticisms as a source of reliable, honest feedback, rather than seeing them as uninvited criticisms. At least with them, you know what you see is what you get.

I would much rather be out with a directly blunt person than with someone is seemingly nice but is fake. Some people pretend to be nice and supportive in front of you, when in actuality they are not in agreement and they are just concealing their misgivings.

- Address Your Discomfort Within:

If I ever feel uncomfortable about others’ comments, I’ll look within to understand why I’m feeling that way. Chances are, it made me uncomfortable because it has struck a chord with an inner belief.

- Don’t “Ask” for Opinions if You Can’t Take It:

If you can’t take what the person has to say, then don’t ask for his/her opinion. This includes invitations for opinions, by virtue of just talking on the topic. Critical people like to dispense their opinions even where they are not asked, so just make sure you don’t mention it in front of them.

- Disengage from their Criticism / Ignore Them:

As they say about online flaming – “Don’t feed the trolls”. If you can’t stop them from voicing their opinions, then you have an option of ignoring them. Give a simple 1-2 liner response, one that acknowledges receipt of the comment but doesn’t engage further in the discussion. And if the person presses on, then just ignore him/her altogether. At this point, it’s obvious that he/she wants to ignite a response in you. By not doing so, you maintain your locus of control of the situation.

- Avoid Them:

Where all else fails, simply avoid them altogether. Reduce contact, limit conversations with him/her, hang out with others if it’s a group outing, or as a last resort – cut him/her out of your life. Even if both of you are from the same team and in the same workplace, you can’t be working with each other 24/7. Use a combination of all approaches above in the times you absolutely have to interact, then just steer clear of him/her during the other times.

  • I think you meant "Honesty can never be overrated"? – gnasher729 Jan 5 '17 at 10:29
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For a start do you behave rudely to him. That will do no good and make you just as bad as him.

I think he has got under your skin and enjoys "rubbing you up the wrong way". I think it is best to say something. "Perhaps I will give that a try". Then come back later and say to him "Well that did not work? Please could you show me what I have done wrong". Then take merriment in him stewing in his own juices.

Doing that once or twice will probably get him off your back.

But the bottom line is to always act professionally and with respect. Do not give him any ammunition.

  • 1
    Do not give him any ammunition. Whatever the rest, this is the most important. – gazzz0x2z Jan 9 '16 at 10:32
  • I don't think that would work at all. Having failed to do it his way, he will then show you how to do it properly his way, and you'll just end up looking stupid. There are usually several different ways to do something. Any of them would work, and in reality people just choose the way that suits them. – Simon B Jan 9 '16 at 23:49
  • Why would you look stupid if you learn something? – Ed Heal Jan 10 '16 at 4:02
  • @EdHeal because it completely fails to achieve the objective stated in your original answer. Not only have they shown that their method works, but also that you couldn't fathom out how to make their method work without them showing you. – Simon B Jan 10 '16 at 22:49
  • What is wrong with being taught something? If you are sure that they are wrong then my answer works. It makes them look like a fool. If there method is better then it is time to eat humble pie in a dignified way. Either way you win. – Ed Heal Jan 10 '16 at 22:52
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Be careful. Take a close look at what you're doing and achieving and make sure your work is up to scratch. He can't complain if he has nothing to complain about.

If he's not your manager and he continues to make things up in order to criticise you, tell him to stop. If you feel you're still being targeted, take it up with your manager. This is something that a quick word from your manager to him should make an end to.

Make sure he's not correct in what he is saying though. Constructive criticism should be taken seriously, and when someone criticised me, I would check it out thoroughly rather than just decide they had a personal issue. Confrontational or inane criticism is different, and you need to stand up for yourself before you get a reputation as someone who is always being told off and therefore probably incompetent. I have seen people get this label and eventually lose their jobs.

  • Many people can and do complain if they have nothing to complain about. – gnasher729 Jan 5 '17 at 10:30
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You're always going to run into people like this. Making sure they don't upset you is very important (You'll get upset, just don't show it.). Since you're trying to learn, ask them to give further explanations. Who knows, they may know about some factor you're not aware of.

Finally, ask them to take responsibility for the outcome of using their suggestion. Say, "If this doesn't work, are you going to tell our boss it's your fault?" Many people will decline. They'll make claims about not being responsible for your work or other things outside of their control. If I am going to get blamed for a failure, I'm going to do things my way. That doesn't mean I don't take other people's advice, because I do, but that is my choice and not because it was forced upon me.

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