How to Handle Hotheads and Their Criticism

How to Handle Hotheads and Their Criticism

How to Handle Hotheads and Their Criticism

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to reveal how to handle hotheads and their criticism.

First a quick update:

Expanding your influence – Three-time Best Selling Author Teresa de Grosbois and Six-time EMMY® winning Media Coach Shawne Duperon are coming to LA July 11th, 2013 for a content-rich hands-on business training. This all day workshop in LA is focused on mastering and growing your influence in business. It’s for entrepreneurs and those on a fast corporate track on a path for business growth. I am promoting it because the proceeds benefit “Project: Forgive.” Check out the workshop here.

Now, let’s talk about how to handle hotheads and their criticism.

“Don’t be distracted by criticism. Remember-the only taste of success some people have is when they take a bite out of you.” – From the book “The One Year Daily Insights” by Zig Zigler

No matter who you are, you will experience criticism in life; it can come from even your closest friends and the people whom claim they care the most about you. And while the criticism may take many forms – one of the most common is when the other person criticizes and attacks you rather than addressing the topic. In other words, they attack you personally rather than focusing on a solution or dealing with the actual problem.

The person who ‘reacts’ in this way can be viewed as a hothead – as if the steam is blowing out of their head and in turn, they produce fiery words designed to burn and tear you down. And if you choose to respond in the same way by ‘reacting’ and attacking them, then it becomes like a volcano eruption and the result is that both people get burned and the relationship (personal or business) might be destroyed.

If you are not careful and if you lack the skill, then it is easy for the personal attack to become successful and shatter your confidence. Words are powerful!

By understanding the hotheads, you can avoid taking the criticism personally, and you can avoid absorbing it.


  • Escalate the problem – instead of speaking only about the topic with reason, logic and a focus on a solution, they introduce intense emotion – anger, bitterness, etc
  • Usually are under stress – notice if there is extraordinary stress in their lives and thus they are unable to control their emotional responses
  • They are hurting – it’s not your role to be their therapist but if you can gain understanding of their situation and circumstances, their reaction will have less power over you. Consider, if they are experiencing particularly difficult or specific challenges or problems in their life. Consider whether or not they actually need help and support, and thus, their harsh reaction is actually a cry for help.
  • Insecure – they have deep insecurities or simply don’t feel good about themselves. When people feel insecure, it is likely that they will seek a way to feel in control and they will do that by cutting you down so they can feel taller.
  • Were criticized themselves – again, you are not their therapist but consider if they were raised with criticism, condemnation and judgment. If so, then criticizing others and doing so personally, has become a learned behavior – a program for them. Also, consider if they are in a relationship with a partner who also does the same to them thus teaching them to repeat that action.
  • Projecting their own self-loathing – When you can listen to the words carefully from a point of disassociation, you will often hear bizarre words that have no truth about you. Then, you will notice that their angry words,, though directed at you, are actually things they feel and believe about themselves.
  • Lack Emotional Intelligence – EI is the ability to understand one’s own feelings, express empathy for the feelings of others and “the regulation of emotion in a way that enhances living.” Emotional Intelligence is the awareness of your own emotions as well as the emotions of others, and, the ability to manage your emotions. Read my Newsletter “Emotional Intelligence”  and click here to take the test to determine how emotionally smart you are. Another perspective is to understand that the hothead is displaying unskilled behavior.

Understanding the hothead helps you to separate yourself from the criticism while also potentially feeling and expressing compassion for him/her. However, this approach is not intended for you to allow yourself to be spoken to in a disrespectful or derogatory manner. In fact, it is critical to your happiness and emotional wellbeing that you become clear about your own personal boundaries – what will you accept and what won’t you accept.

You can walk away from the argument and give both sides time to calm down, cool down and review what happened. Next, as you become clear about your boundaries, you can remind the person (friend, colleague, family member) about what your boundaries are – what you will and what you won’t accept. If he/she then chooses to step over the boundaries again, then you must consider whether or not you are ready to walk away from the relationship. Remember, we teach others how to treat us – by what we allow them to do and say to us.

Finally, always calmly consider is there is any truth to their attack; none of us is perfect and there might be some truth to their criticism. We can choose to respond by taking the action to change our behavior. And if there is no truth, be vigilant and strong to not allow them to lie to you about who you are. Adopt this motto:

“I understand that the way others choose to respond to me is about them!”

If you would like personal help to change subconscious beliefs and release yourself from the past, consider a one-on-one session with me: Click here to schedule.

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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