How to Win Against Competitors Who Criticize / Badmouth You

The Desire to Critique Those We Compete Against

In the heat of competition, the desire to criticize our opponents is warm, tender, and difficult to evade. We often feel the need to tell those around us just how unskilled the ones we compete against are in the specific contest we partake in.

That desire to disparage those who compete against us seems to stem from a desire to knock them off their game plan and frame an audience against them.

Whether they get influenced by our words or those who cheer for them do, the goal is to simply affect the outcome. A secondary goal is to make ourselves feel better / confident about our ability to compete against the individuals we see as rivals.

This desire to criticize competitors will live within many you compete against. You’ll find that your competitors talk behind your back, attempt to ruin your reputation in the eyes of previously unbiased onlookers, and will sneakily frame you in a negative light. (Read more about this specified desire.) 


This article is about dissuading your competitors from damaging your chances of winning an unbiased competitive contest.


The competitions within which backstabbers thrive are those which are lengthy determinants of skill.

Examples can be getting the employee of the month, going for a promotion that opened up, or becoming valedictorian. More entrepreneurial examples are running a similar blog as another, making videos on the same subject online, or running a concurrent pizza shop at the other end of town.

Below are ways to seemingly trap your competitors in a state of showing you respect, notwithstanding how you perform in the heat of competition.


Publicize Prior Friendly Interactions

You typically know who your potential competitors are when you first enter the competitive realm. For instance, as your manager announces that a team lead position has opened up, you’ll have an idea for who the front runners are to be considered for the position.

It seems that publicizing the prior interactions you’ve had with your competitors does well to encourage your competitors to act consistently toward you. Continuing with the team lead example from above, as your days being around your potential competitors go on, you’d do well to bring up fun assignments from the past in conversation.

Single out the people who you feel will most likely badmouth you and include them in your act of publicizing prior experiences.

Remember when we went to that odd pizza place for lunch James? I’ve never laughed harder than when they brought our food out on wooden boards. I just wanted a damn plate.”


Friendly Interactions Online

Online, you quickly find that your competitors keep close tabs on you as both of you try to build an audience / customer base in the same niche. When the numbers are still low, it is best practice to reach out to those you compete against and express your respect. This expression can be done through a direct message, on a comment on one of their publications, or a shout out on one of your own pieces of content.

Their response matters not, as the record of you reaching out for a friendly interaction would remain. In the face of malicious criticism coming from their side, you’d be able to prove that you have nothing against the individuals who’ve taken issue with you.

By having a record of you acting kindly toward them, they’d be likier to be perceived as having a vested interest in making you look bad in the audience’s eyes.

If they do respond to your early extensions of friendship they’d cement their track record of acting friendly toward you. In knowing that, it’ll be more difficult to change their tune as your competition morphs and perhaps ramps up down the line.


Positive Public Statements

Make it a habit to speak highly about your competitors. Though it may seem counter-intuitive on how that would help you win against them, making positive statements about those you compete against is a win / win / win scenario.

First win: You’d label yourself as not being intimidated by their potential success / skill. You’d be perceived as acting honestly in respecting those who actually warrant respect even though you compete against them.

Second win:  You’d make it difficult for those you voice positive thoughts about to critique you. It’s difficult to pull off critiquing someone who has publicly showed us love. It’ll be a tougher balancing act to perform should your competitors elect to still voice their negativity and retain a positive reception from the audience around them.

Third win: You serve to gain more if you win against people you’ve propped up prior.


We seem stronger when we defeat (seemingly) stronger enemies.


Strive to make your enemies seem as strong as you can make them. In doing so you’ll place competitive pressure on them to perform in line with the expectations that you’ve set. You’d also set yourself up to experience a victory which is sweeter than if you were to partake in sending criticisms back and forth.


Do Not Respond to Their Critiques With Your Own

Do not respond in any adverse way when you discover that your competitors have indeed voiced critiques about your work or skills. Keep on course with making positive public statements, publicizing prior friendly interactions, and being confident in the work that you put out.

If asked for your opinion on the act of your competitors critiquing you, exude an understanding tone while denying any false claims they made. Act defensively if needed, but don’t yearn to launch a counterattack of any sort.

Ensure that those who look to you for an opinion understand you to perceive your competitors critiques as simply competitive strategy.

Responding to a critique with a critique of your own will label you as following the lead of the people who voiced their criticisms first. You’d join the invitation to play a game they started, rather than being on your own path toward victory. Since they’d have started the game of backstabbing and criticizing, they’d likely feel a sense of ownership and comfort in dominating it.

Respond with saying that you have nothing bad to say about your competitors, and that their words don’t mean much to you since you’re both in the midst of competition.

Continue propping your competitors up even in the face of criticism coming from them. Diffuse any power their words carried with them by not allowing them to veer you off your course from a fair, positive, and noble competitor.

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Disclaimer of Opinion: This article is presented only as opinion. It does not make any scientific, factual, or legal claims. Please critically analyze all claims made and independently decide on its validity.