6 Proven Steps to Deal With Judgmental People (W/ Examples)

Judgmental people can be very annoying and easily get under your skin.

This post teaches how to deal with their annoying judgmental attitude with six simple steps.

We will also use a case study to help you understand the power dynamics of assault/defense that dealing with judgmental people entails.

#1. Do Not Give Them Moral Authority!

Judgmental people only have power over you if you give them authority.

They need authority to feed their ego, increase their social status, and, of course, make you feel bad.

And they usually assume authority based on something of self-appointed superiority.

The self-appointed superior can be based on skills, results, “being better”… Or general moral superiority.
They set themselves up on that moral high ground, and look down on you.

But here’s the thing:

They can only stay there if you allow them to!

Notice the interviewer taking up the authority position:

Why is she appointing herself as the party that needs to be convinced? That’s what Sheene should have attacked.

There’s rarely an official “moral handover” and it all happens because the entitled attacker takes the moral superiority.
So the number one step is a mindset:

  • Never feel like he is superior to you!

And whenever they take an authority position over you, contest it.

#2. Refuse to Take The Defendant Position

The other side of the coin of not giving judgmental people the authority position is to not take the subordinate position.

You have to do this consciously and remind yourself about it.


Because unless you’re already very skilled or self-assured the natural tendency when facing a judgmental attitude is one of subservience.

Avoid like the plague to:

  • Follow
  • Justify/defend yourself
  • Backtrack
  • Ask what you should do
  • Ask what they would do

Instead, a good idea is to cut the topic short while you make it clear their judgment is not welcome.

Say something like:

  • That’s a fair point but I disagree
  • I disagree, but thank you for your opinion
  • I see it otherwise, but thanks for sharing

Or block their judgmental ways with a stronger verbal opposition:

  • NO, that’s not true
  • Sorry mate, but lemme be frank here: you don’t know what you’re talking about
  • (shaking your head, no words spoken)

#3. Dig Up Their Dirt: Show They Are Unfit to Judge

This is a nasty but effective technique.

And it consists of kicking the soapbox off their haughty feet.
Your aim here is to show through their track record that they are unfit to judge.

If they can’t pontificate, they can’t judge you.

Seen an example:

Nasty, but effective.

#4. Call Out Their Game: Don’t Allow Them to Shoot & Hide

Often judgmental people will make us feel bad without coming out in the open.

They won’t say anything directly to our faces but a smirk, a look on their face, or an off-hand remark will sub-communicate they are judging us -and disapproving-.

Exactly what happens in this sex and the city episode:

Notice Miranda’s judgmental comments:

  • “Tray suggested… ? “
  • “Like what… “

She never directly admits her true feelings. She never says that she thinks the idea is silly, but she makes Charlotte feel under heavy -and negative- scrutiny.
This is called “cover aggression” because you know the aggression is there, but it’s hidden.

This leads to a fight later as in typical passive-aggressive behavior Charlotte didn’t address the issue head-on.
You want to do the opposite: take the behavior in full light and address it.

Say something like:

You: I perceive some hostility from you right now. Can you please clarify?

Then keep going until they admit it.
If they keep denying, you still won as they’ve shown they don’t even have the courage to voice their disagreement.

#5. Stick to Your Guns: Don’t Apologize

Judgmental people have the power to make us feel bad about our choices, our ethics, and our behavior.

But again, only if you give them that power. A great antidote is to answer with full conviction and pride in your own choices and ethics.

This is particularly important in situations where the judgmental person backs a widely held view in society.

For example, things such as “don’t party too much, don’t sleep around, don’t live unemployed, etc., etc.”

Russel Brand is very good at this:

That’s some owning up there 🙂

6. Keep The Mental Edge: Don’t Let Them Get Under Your Skin

If you overreact, you lose.

Indeed, as George Thompson teaches, it’s crucial that in difficult communication you keep the mental edge by remaining unaffected.

If you let judgmental people get to you, you are blessing them with a lot of power.
Notice their behavior, maneuver around it, and stay unaffected.

The Power Dynamics of Judgmental People

judgmental person

Judgmental people are powerful because, with their judgment, they are indirectly saying:

  1. I’m better than you
  2. You’re not good enough

The first part goes under our skin, while the second part makes us feel unworthy.
Once we feel unworthy, we want to change our behavior to comply with the judgmental person’s standards.
And that’s why judgmental people are manipulators. Judgemental people seek to make you feel bad in order to control and manipulate your behavior.

Judgmental people always use a judgment frame against you.
They seek to frame themselves as the only ones who hold the true moral and ethical code, and they seek to frame you as living outside of that moral code, which makes you “not good enough” for them, for their group, or for society.

To learn the power dynamics of the judicial role, please see:

The Judge Role: A Tool For Power & Control


The keys to dealing with judgmental people are:

  1. Don’t give them power
  2. Put a spotlight on their spiteful attitude
  3. Never apologize: stay proud of who you are
  4. Stay unaffected
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