Before I make my point today, let me say this. There are times when the best thing you can do, as a friend or a loved one, is give a hard truth or some constructive criticism. However, those hard-to-hear words need to be spoken tactfully and given in love. When done that way, you are still building them up. You are helping and not hindering their progress. If anything, it's more loving to be honest than it is to just give blind agreement.
To use a building analogy, wouldn't you want to know your foundation wasn't secure before you finished building the house? There are those among us who do not have good intentions or pure motives.
These detractors know nothing is wrong with your foundation. They are unhappy because you are making more progress on your house or because they think your house will look better than theirs when its done. So instead of enlisting your help so both of you can have beautiful homes, they decide to stop you from building yours or at least help you build it shoddily. They honestly feel if they can't have the best then nobody should.
How does this play out when we move it from the construction site to the real world?
- They see you saving money and getting out of debt, so they 'encourage' you to spend, spend, spend.
- They give bad relationship advice and try to sow seeds of discord between you and your partner so you two will eventually split up.
- They take credit for your work or they set out to make your job performance look bad in order to make themselves look good.
- When you are down, they offer words of discouragement (often described as being 'real').
- They constantly point out your mistakes and bring up past 'failures'.
Most likely, as you read those bullets, a face, maybe two, popped into mind. We all have these kinds of people in our lives and many times we aren't in a position to sever that relationship entirely. So what do we do?
Watch your back. Once you know who you are dealing with you, know how to handle them. Personally, I try not to share the details of my life with them, especially when I am facing challenges or I'm dealing with difficult issues.
Garbage In, Garbage Out. When they do get a hold of information, let them talk. Let it go in one ear and out the other. Resist the urge (and I know it's hard) to defend yourself and your actions. Your responses, and your emotions, give them the fuel they need to keep going after you. Don't give in.
Rely on your real friends. Dealing with these negative detractors is exhausting and draining. So always seek the support of those who love, care and want the best for you after dealing with them. In fact, you should be spending 80% of your time with your supporters and no more than 20% (at the most) with your detractors.