How to Deal with the typical naysayers at work

Abdallah Yashir
5 min readJun 29, 2018

The typical Naysayer at work is the overly pessimistic, whiner and know it all person. He or she is the one annoying person at the office who complains about almost everything, seems to know everything currently happening and likes to formulate expert opinions all the time.

You will notice this person has most probably achieve nothing concrete in his or her life but always seems to know what is good for you. Some people even call them a walking dictionary.

They always have something to criticise about your goals, dreams and intentions. They might even act like your nemesis following you everywhere.

Understanding their psychology

  1. They are not to be completely blamed.
    The typical naysayers you encounter regularly at your workplace are like that because of the conditioning and limiting beliefs they have developed due to their past making them needy and insecure. But that should not justify their antisocial behaviours.
  2. They portray their lens on you.
    They believe you are like them with similar belief systems and world view. They assume everybody want the same thing as they want, therefore act as an self appointed authority to dictate you what is wrong or right. In case you prefer other things, you are immediately looked down upon.
  3. They seek approval.
    You might have notice how the naysayers love putting their nose in everything you say or do because they need the approval or acceptance of others. They have to give their two cents because they fear people ignoring them. They want the reaction of others and will usually try to make others laugh, often at your expense, in order to feel accepted.
  4. They do not give but take value.
    They try to feel good at the expense of others. Putting you down in order to generate some laugh makes them feel good because they do not have enough value in themselves such as self confidence, courage and leadership. Notice how they will rarely give value like complimenting you but always present to supplement your faults or weaknesses.
  5. They have short term vision.
    The typical naysayers with a limited exposure and experience in the real world is unable to have long term visions and goals. Rather they hold on short term gains and instant gratification. That is the reason they are overly pessimistic and try to dissuade you attempting anything worth doing that will take time and effort.
  6. They are narcissist.
    You might think that they care for you because they interact with you often. However in reality they only care about themselves. With new goals and objectives, you will invariably change and they do not like that because they would have to change or adapt to a certain degree. Being insecure they prefer grasping on the status quo rather than changing.
  7. They have low self esteem.
    With low self esteem, they are not only afraid of change but prefer avoid taking risks and would repeatedly advise you the same. They portray their limiting beliefs and issues on you and laugh at you when you talk about your vision and goals.
  8. They are fault finders.
    They are lightning quick to find faults and are always telling you what is wrong and why you can’t succeed. They are not interested in suggesting relating solutions and ideas but love the feeling of superiority they get doing so. By pointing out the mistakes of others (and hiding theirs), they want to demonstrate they are better than others and should be given approval.
  9. They lack social skills.
    They might have the best intentions in mind but the way they interact with others often irritate us. They do not know proper etiquette in interpersonal relationships such as not interrupting when someone is speaking or respecting their opinions.

The excellent news is that it does not matter who the perpetual naysayer is or what he or she does. You cannot change them but you can adjust your response or attitude to mitigate their influence to such a point that they realise their own issues.

Strategies to deal with them most effectively.

  1. Avoiding or minimising exposure.
    The easiest way to deal with them is to avoid them. However working together makes it difficult and constantly having to ignore them will drain you in the long term since you will have to endlessly check for their presence or not.
  2. Limit telling your intentions.
    Do not tell them your intentions or to anyone when they are present. The trademarked naysayer will always have something to say, mostly negative or trying to put you down so that they can feel better about themselves.
  3. Test their congruence.
    Each time they say something in response to what you say, maintain a firm unimpressed eye contact for a few seconds to create tension. Having low self esteem, they will back out and will soon associate tension to commenting about you. If you have trouble doing that, practise doing and maintaining eye contacts on everyone you see.
  4. Completely ignore their behaviour.
    When the accomplished naysayers interrupt you while you are explaining something, try completely ignore them in a sense that they do not exist. Assume they do not exist and continue your discourse. Other time you can carry out normal conversations with them because they have a double personality. Whenever they are alone, they act like your best friend and will never even think of saying something negatively. However when in group, their nice side instantly vanishes.
  5. Ask a random question to confuse them and diffuse the matter.
    Each time the nemesis interrupts you, simply ask a random question to confuse the perpetrator which gives you ample time to continue with your speech. For example ask about the time or when the rain will fall. The one who asks the question controls the conversation.
  6. Over exaggerate their point.
    Use sarcasm to add on whatever they are saying so that they eventually get the impression that they are missing something. For example you say you want to write a book. They say you won’t be able to write one. Instead of feeling bad or reacting, join the fun and keep adding the sauce. Tell them I can’t even write a sentence while smiling. You continue till they stop. If you do it often, they will soon realise their stupidity or lack of skills because they will have to invest a lot of effort not to appear foolish in public, something they dread.
  7. Discard their statement as irrelevant.
    Often times, in the midst of an important explanation, you will be interrupted by them. Your mind is fully focused on the subject and you prefer no distractions. Looking at the person, with a smile but firm tone, say “It’s irrelevant” and continue your speech.
  8. Don‘t Argue.
    George Carlin said “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” Whenever they say something, say yes and continue with your act of self expression. You will see once you agree with anything they say, they will quickly run out of things to say.

Self actualised people are independent of the good opinions of others on them knowing that the one person whose opinion truly matters is themselves. Do not let others’ superficial opinions hinder you towards achieving your best. However, be wise to listen to any constructive criticism in order to improve.



Abdallah Yashir

Senior Software Developer, Writer, Amateur Photographer, Reader