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How to manage the overcritical family member

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Fiona Tate | Mar 8, 2018 | Photograph by: Helena Lopes

“You know that dress adds another 10cm onto your hips, don’t you?”

“So…you’re going with the blue then?”

“Um…do you like your hair that colour?”

Do any of these sound familiar?

Why is it that the people you are closest to are the ones that seem to think that the normal rules of polite conversation don’t apply when they’re talking to you?

If you’re anything like me, my first instinct is to snap something equally as rude back at them and then brood over their comment for the next three days. Once I’m done with the brooding, I either decide they must be right or decide they don’t know what they’re talking about and avoid them for a while.

Neither response is very satisfying. Or helpful in any way.


Where does that kind of statement come from?

“Oh, they’re just jealous.”

That’s another statement that’s not very helpful.

Family and friends often feel so comfortable with you that they forget to use their filter. They blurt out whatever pops into their head without worrying about whether they’ll hurt your feelings or not. You’ll get over it.

And they’re right, you will get over it, but you don’t have to put up with it.

It’s an old cliché, but like most clichés, its true:

Nobody can upset you unless you let them.

Here’s another old cliché:

The world would be a boring place if we all liked the same things.

So…if snapping at them doesn’t work, and sulking about it doesn’t work, then what’s the solution?


3 tactics to manage rude behaviour from the people you love


  • You could ignore them

And by ignore them, I mean change the subject, turn the music up, turn your back on them and speak to someone else.

The problem you might have with this one is they may think you didn’t hear what they said and decide to repeat it. If they’re rude enough to say it in the first place, they’re probably rude enough to say it again.

Or, they might figure out for themselves that they’ve been rude.


  • You could throw it back at them

You could say “Why do you think it’s okay to say that to me? Do you not realize that’s a very rude thing to say to someone?” Be warned though. Tackling it this way may lead to a much longer conversation. And by conversation, I mean argument.


  • You could handle it like the civilized adult you are

Smile your sweetest smile and say “I love that you feel comfortable enough with me to voice your opinion, but this is my (insert here) and I’ll do what I like with it.”


  • Bonus – You could just laugh it off


The thing to remember is that you’re not going to stop these comments. You’re always going to get criticism from someone. What’s important is that you remember who you are, who you want to be, and that they’re entitled to their opinion, just like you are.

They’re even entitled to voice that opinion. But you’re also entitled to decide how you’re going to respond.

Finally, however you respond to the immediate situation, it might be a good idea to have a chat with the person, once you’ve calmed down. They may not be aware of how abrupt their comment was, or maybe they’ve realized, thought bad of it, but didn’t want to bring it up again.

You’re not responsible for what other people say, but you are responsible for your response. Don’t let someone else’s behavior turn you into someone you don’t want to be.




Natalie Hughes founded Miss Independent in 2017, to educate and mentor women and help them make their best career and business decisions. Natalie is an experienced business woman and non-executive company director focused on organisational design, strategy, growth and innovation. Her goal is to help you think differently, work differently and feel in control of your own destiny.

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