How to Deal With Haters and Negative People Who Put You Down

Most people will have experienced, at some point, how it feels to be the target for some-one’s nasty comments, negativity and a seeming determination to put us down. Depending on our own personality, the point we are at in our lives, how often we are targeted and the situation itself, such negativity can be received in many different ways by us – from an unconcerned shrug of the shoulders to deeply felt pain.

If you’re in the ‘unconcerned shrug’ group then you probably have it all in hand. But most of us aren’t quite so able to shield ourselves this effectively and certainly not all the time. So what can you do to deal with such situations?

Understanding – It’s Not About You

The first thing is to understand what drives some people to behave so badly towards certain others. Doing so won’t change their behavior but it might make you look at it differently and in so doing make you more able to deal with it. You might even become one of the shoulder shrugging brigade.

Typically speaking, most people who feel the need to put others down are unhappy, unfulfilled and lacking heavily in the self-worth and self-confidence departments. How they behave says far more about them than it does about you. Happy-in-their-own-skin, balanced and satisfied people don’t dish out the nasty to others – they have no need to make others feel inferior.

Think about it – when are the times when you find yourself thinking bad and perhaps irrationally bad thoughts about some-one? You’ll probably find it is when you are feeling insecure, threatened or simply jealous of another’s looks/achievements/popularity etc.

Time for Self Reflection

If something which has been said or done has deeply hurt you, you might like to spend some time asking yourself why. Why has a particular comment for example made you react so defensively? Is it because it has touched on something that you are not sure of yourself or some element of truth you don’t really want to face? If so is there anything you can do about it? If some-one has made an unkind comment about your appearance for example then perhaps it is time for you to spend some time building up your own self-confidence so other’s comments can’t touch you…… or can’t touch you so much anyway.

It can be very hard to be completely open and honest with ourselves at times and knowing and accepting ourselves without hiding can be challenging.

We are not suggesting that you dwell on this for too long or automatically accept responsibility for some-one else’s bad behavior. It is just it might be an opportunity to look at yourself a little closer, make discoveries and move forward and grow.

To React or Not to React?

Depending on your personality and the situation, some-one else’s nasty comments might make us want to burst into tears and then run and hide or lash out violently – maybe even both. However tempting it might be – and it will be VERY tempting at times – don’t come straight back with some catty comment of your own. Lowering yourself to this level might give you some instant gratification but that will quickly fade and leave you even more hurt.

Only you can really decide how you handle the immediate aftermath of such negativity but bear in mind that the perpetrator is quite possibly looking for a reaction – either from you or those around you. If you react you are playing straight into their hands and allowing them to dictate the rules.

However, if you say and do nothing this could be perceived as weak and an invitation to do it again at the first opportunity.


The best way to deal with this situation is to stay as calm as possible (even if you are seething on the inside) and make some comment such as ‘does that make you feel better?’, ‘thank you for your opinion – I will think about it’ or, if you are in a work situation, something like ‘let’s keep this professional shall we’. This way you are not giving them any satisfaction from your reaction but you are also making it clear that you won’t just sit and take it either – maybe the best of both worlds.

Let’s Have a Word

Not all people who make negative comments and put-downs have true malicious intent behind their actions and words. Sometimes people think they are being funny or simply haven’t realized that their thoughtless words have caused you any kind of distress.

If you are in a situation where the same person continuously causes you upset, such as in a work situation, it may be as well to take them aside and speak to them. Explain calmly how they are making you feel, Sometimes that might be the end of the matter.

Once, I had been subject to a girl, whose boyfriend had paid me some attention, spreading nasty rumors that I wasn’t in fact a woman but a man who had had a sex change operation. I have always been a bit of a tom-boy and have quite a boyish build so my femininity was a subject I was quite touchy on. This girl hurt me deeply. I decided to approach her and I could tell she was expecting confrontation. Instead I calmly told her that had her intention been to hurt me she had achieved that with bells on and if that made her feel better I was glad but could we now stop. She stood there with her mouth open and then I walked away. I had no further problems.

This wouldn’t of course work with everyone or in all situations. This girl was herself hurting, feeling unsure and insecure about her boyfriend and instead of lashing out at him she lashed out at me. But it nevertheless illustrates a point and a different way of dealing with a situation of this kind.


Although we understand this might seem like an oversimplification, the bottom line is some-one can only hurt you if you let them. It is actually a choice how react to some-one else’s words and actions. Ultimately YOU have the control and that is quite a self-empowering concept.

  • Anonymous

    This is a simple yet effective article that reminds us that the insults of others can only go as far as we let them. I am fortunate to be surrounded by positive friends but have recently been the target of backhanded slaps by my own sister and cousin for no apparent reason. It was very hard for me to accept that people from my own family whom I loved and supported could be so insensitive. It took me a while to realize that their put-downs (ridiculing my career and telling me to do something useful with my life – I’m not sure what exactly they thought I did) were likely a result of their own unhappiness and not a reflection of truth, theirs or mine. I was deeply hurt for several days mostly because I thought their insults were based in truth before realizing that neither of them knew or bothered to find out anything about my career, goals, and achievements. I could win the Nobel prize and they would still be belittling me as long as it made them feel temporarily better.

    My sister is particularly difficult to talk to as she refuses to discuss anything that concerns progress, personal or general – as a result, we have stopped celebrating achievements or happy events within the family as it only seems to make her bitter or depressed. She has refused to acknowledge that the opportunities her friends have were earned through hard work and has had many friendships broken off due to her negativity and tendency to belittle others. On top of that, she demands receiving the same opportunities that I have earned on the basis that, as siblings, “rewards” should be distributed fairly and that my parents are the ones responsible for evening up any imbalance (she turns 25 this year). Any reasoning on the part of my parents lead to her accusing them of unfairness and eventually putting down my achievements (and those of others) to either luck or redundancy, convincing herself that they are worthless. As a result, having an adult conversation with her is nearly impossible, let alone trying to make her understand the effect of her unkind words. I hope to eventually build up my own self-confidence to respond to her insults with an unconcerned shrug – I have to admit, it hurts coming from someone you love and have supported thus far. I also hope that eventually, the person to whom I have to resort giving an unconcerned shrug would not be my own sister.