Diffusing Verbal Criticism

Young couple arguing in kitchenWhen was the last time you were nasty to someone's face? On purpose?

I had the opportunity this week during a Toastmasters meeting, and let me tell you, my extraverted Feeling (Fe) was not that happy about it. Fe is a function usually concerned with harmony, inclusion, and connection, so playing ticked off is actually quite an effort. I got over it knowing that it was my job to help my conversation partner practice his skills in dealing with someone yelling at his face. So there we were.

To help me play the part of an angry woman verbally criticizing and putting someone in his place, I used a simple but effective physical effect:

I made him sit down while I stood in "wonder woman" pose above. Legs wide, solid stance, fists at hips. Didn't even have to raise my voice that much, it was the mere act of looking down that conveyed much of the supposed negative sentiment.


a) if you have to provide criticism, constructive or otherwise, and are uncomfortable about it, find a physical position that is comfortable and that takes up a lot of space to make you appear and feel tall and powerful. Also, find a mindset of support to help make your points to the other party.

b) if you know you're going to be chastised, see you're on equal footing and can look the other person in the eyes. It's going to go a long way in reminding you of your self-worth and perhaps even find chances for empathic listening.