If you are frequently criticized for a particular trait, you might consider whether people have a point. But if you seem to generally bring out the critical side of people, it could be that you are influencing this pattern by your demeanor.
As we grow up, we learn to anticipate how people are going to treat us before we actually interact. That anticipation makes it more likely that things will happen the way we expect. Our facial expressions and body language convey our expectations, and people tend to respond as we expect them to.
If you are used to being criticized, you anticipate feeling hurt and dejected. Just before an interaction, you may start reacting by slight cringing, looking down, or looking unsure. When people subliminally notice dejected body language, it often brings out their critical side.
It may be time to purposely change those expectations and corresponding body language. At first, you can simply pretend that you expect to be accepted and appreciated, rather than criticized. In other words, when you approach others, anticipate the positive. Facial expressions that convey confidence, anticipating acceptance, tend to induce a favorable response.
Once people start responding more positively, you’ll no longer need to pretend to expect the best. It will come naturally.
by Alison Poulsen PhD