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How to Deal With People Who Like to Undermine Your Actions

Whatever the occasion might be, most of us have dealt with a friend or a family member who seems to enjoy knocking you down a peg. For a second, you might think you didn’t quite understand what that person said. However, when you see their face, you became quite aware you got their message right.

When those confusing, passive-aggressive incidents happen, you can’t prevent yourself from thinking ‘why.’ Why do they do that? Why can’t they just let you be and enjoy your success without their condescending remarks? This is called social undermining. Even though it might seem harmless at first sight, it can take a serious emotional toll. Subconsciously, you will gradually start to doubt yourself, to feel a lack of support, and even resentful.

“Once you embrace your value, talents, and strengths, it neutralizes when others think less of you.” Rob Liano 

These are the steps you have to take if you want to eliminate social undermining from your life.

Look for the relevant signs

First, you have to make sure that you’re actually dealing with social undermining. Sometimes, what seems like social undermining can just be someone saying something stupid. After all, we all put our foot in our mouths from time to time. To cut things short – social undermining uses negativity to weaken a person’s goals or successes, so it cannot be seen as a sincere mistake made from the temporary act of stupidity. There are even a few distinctive traits in someone who undermines you:

  • They also do it to other people, so you’re most probably not the only one to take notice.
  • You feel defensive in their company like you have to prove something, but you’re not quite sure why.
  • They are often gossipping about the lifestyle choices of other people but disguise it as sincere concern.
  • They are unable to make a genuine compliment – their compliments always sound insulting.
  • They are always tempting you – if you are on a diet, they will eat a cheeseburger in front of you. Or if you are saving your money they will buy something extremely expensive just to make you feel bad.

If you are still not sure, you should ask someone else to help you decide. People with good intentions who are outside the situation notice underminers pretty fast.

Find the real motive

Most commonly, people undermine others because of jealousy. Still, there are other motives such as competition, projection, and concern. Competition is common in the workplace. Projection means that your actions remind them of their own deeds, and sometimes there is this genuine concern which causes undermining.

So, in figuring out how to deal with the social undermining, you first have to understand why it’s happening.

Tell them directly

In some situations, people are not even aware that they’re undermining you. As such, you should address them on the matter. Explaining to them what your real goals are and why they are important to you can be very helpful in removing their undermining remarks. When you call them out, they will be able to realize that your actual behavior is not of their concern. Stand for your own happiness if you really want to enjoy it.

Being upfront helps in a certain number of situations, but not in all of them. If a person undermines you for their passive-aggressive attitude, they might play dumb. The other possibility is that they turn it around and ask why you’re being confrontational.

Stop telling them things

You should keep your progress, milestones, or successes to yourself if your friend only makes you feel bad about them. On the other hand, it doesn’t even have to be goal-related since the underminers can simply try to make you feel bad about the life as a whole. Either way, don’t tell them anything they might ‘use against you.’ You should focus only on the good.

If there are many aspects of your life which inevitably bring out their jealous or competitive side, it is maybe a good time to end that bad relationship in the first place? Think about it – do you see each other simply out of habit or do you really enjoy each other’s company? If your friend makes you feel worthless, why should you insist on that friendship?

End/change the relationship

When your underminer is your colleague, it is easy enough to stop talking to them. But if you are dealing with your friend or a family member, this becomes difficult. What you can do is spend less time together and see each other less often. A little distance will do you some good as it could make them realize friendships should be supportive, not undermining.

On the other hand…

Undermining can be motivating the way competition is. When two people are undermining each other’s successes, it can fuel their competitiveness. If you work harder to prove the other person wrong, with time, you will grow up to learn to be supportive and to encourage each others’ accomplishments.

Also, you can start using undermining as a trigger. Since underminers attack your weakest spots, that makes you aware of the weaknesses you didn’t know you had.

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