There is a reason why most of us dread family gatherings. There’s always a group of uncles or aunts who manage to make you extremely uncomfortable with their negative comments or judgments. Things get worse when you do or have something controversial going on, such as your appearance, job, or even your partner (or not having a partner for that matter). Because they are your senior family members, you can hardly reply with exactly what you have to say, which often makes you frustrated and fuming. Well, there are smart ways to react to judgmental comments from your family members, so read on to know more about them.
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Learn how to set boundaries diplomatically
When a relative of yours insists on commenting on your lifestyle and asking your questions like, “when are you going to settle down and get married?”, reply with “I” or “It” answers. Here are some examples you can use in a similar situation:
“I’d rather focus on my career now”
“It’s important to figure out what I want before settling down”
“I prefer not have any attachments right now”
“It doesn’t suit me now to settle down”
The best thing about using “I” and “It” is that they’re pretty difficult to disagree with. However, if your relative still insists on grilling you, avoid getting into unnecessary arguments and just reply with the short “I” and “It” statements saying “It’s my choice” for example. Keep doing this until they give up.
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Use “Thank You” to end the conversation
One of the most effective ways to reply to unsolicited advice from a family member is to say “thank you” in a firm manner. You’re being polite but powerful at the same time to indicate that you no longer want to discuss the matter further. You can also use “thank you” as a part of an assertive, diplomatic answer. Here are some examples:
“I’m happy with the way things are, but thank you”
“I appreciate your concern. Thank you”
“Thank you, but I’m okay with my decision”
It won’t take them long to understand that you’re not happy with them intruding and getting involved in your life. Very soon they won’t bother asking you any annoying questions.
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Change the topic
If your stubborn relative doesn’t take any hints and still wishes to pursue an unwelcome topic, take control and change the subject. This can be easily done by directing a question to them about a topic of a different nature (preferably something they’re interested in). Moreover, if you’re in a group conversation, you can direct your question to someone else, starting a whole new topic and redirecting the focus.
Team up with your favorite cousin
When it’s time for group get-togethers, always have an empathetic family member be your ally. If you anticipate ahead of time that your intrusive relative is about to give you a hard time, make arrangements with your favorite cousin to change the topic or initiate a separate conversation with you. It doesn’t really matter if your relative thinks that this is rude; at least, you’re not the one who interrupted their “very interesting” conversation. Furthermore, if your ally relative has a strong credibility, you can ask them to directly confront the difficult family member. However, this isn’t the smartest way to handle the situation.
Walk away and keep a healthy distance
If all of the above fails, remember to keep your cool and focus on your peace of mind. They’re not worth grappling with. Your time and emotions should be your priority. Just excuse yourself and make your exit diplomatically, should your annoying relative keep bugging you. If you’re in a family gathering, engage in a fun conversation with other family members and keep a healthy distance between you and your negatively intrusive relative.
Use this method when everything else fails. This relative is obviously trying to provoke you or get a different reaction from you. Don’t satisfy their wishes. If another encounter takes place between you and them, simply remain silent. At this point, you’re doing your best not to engage in any confrontational conversation or reply rudely.
Some people don’t really intend to be judgmental; they’re just uneducated when it comes to what you do. If they’re making jokes about your job or the like, educate them by informing them exactly what you do. Maybe then their perspective will change and you won’t have to go through this conversation again. Remember not to educate them by looking down upon them. Simply explain what can be vague or unclear.
Dealing with judgmental comments from family members is tough because you’re expected to be at your best behavior when you’re around them and they’re still seniors. You’d have to watch out for every word coming out of your mouth before you reply hastily. Make sure you follow these tips and tell us how your next family get-together turns out.