Do you remember the saying "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me"? Unfortunately, for many people this is completely untrue. What people say to them, or what they translate those comments into, can be very hurtful. If you want to be less affected by other people's opinions or comments then it's important to change the way you process that information.

Obviously some things are said to be deliberately hurtful but there are a lot of comments that are completely misinterpreted. If you are expecting criticism from someone, maybe because you've been criticised a lot in the past, then it's easy to hear criticism when someone asks you to do something differently or doesn't heap praise upon you. A lot of people are busy or wrapped up in their own little world and don't actually think about what impact their words have on another person. If you are used to being in an environment where people are unkind or hostile then you can end up always being on the defensive, expecting all conversations to be an attack on you.

Sometimes it's not words that hurt but the lack of them. Perhaps you've spent a lot of time preparing something or gone out of your way to do something and the person who you've done it for doesn't seem very appreciative. They may not realise how much time you've put in, their mind might be on something else or they may be the type of person who just expects someone to do what they've offered to do and so don't feel they need to thank you effusively.

When you are upset by someone listen to that person's interaction with other people. Work out how you know if they are happy or unhappy so that you will be able to relate it to your own dealings with that person. Remember that people usually expect everyone else to be the same as them. So, if you always praise and thank people and are supportive then you may feel that you haven't lived up to expectations or that you've done something wrong if you don't get that support and praise from other people.

Sometimes it's the tone rather than the words that are hurtful. A person with a different accent or a very abrupt way of speaking may seem critical or disinterested but listen to their conversations with other people and if they are the same as the ones with you then it's their natural behaviour with everyone in that particular situation. Listen to the words, rather than the tone.

It's not always misinterpretation though. The other person might be having a bad day and you were just in the wrong place at the wrong time so you got all the anger or irritation that should have been directed at someone else. It might be that the person is out to be hurtful, some people like to stamp their authority or just want other people to have a hard time.

In all of these situations it's important to have confidence in yourself. Be confident that you haven't done anything that warranted the criticism so you can just let go of it or confident enough to be able to agree that you have got something wrong and to do something about it.

Take a few moments to analyse a situation where you have been upset by what someone has (or hasn't) said. Imagine yourself as someone else watching and hearing the exchange with the person who upset you on one side and yourself on the other. If you can't visualise that then concentrate on the words and the sounds. Now run it through in your mind as if it was happening to someone else. This should help you experience it in an impartial way so that it's not as unpleasant. Make the scene smaller and the sounds quieter, move yourself closer to the other person and notice if that makes a difference to how you feel.

And finally, be aware of your own tone and words as well. Do you cut people off when you think you know what they're saying or do you let them get to the end of their sentence? Do you carry on doing something else when they're talking to you because you don't need to give them all your attention or do you give them some indication that you are listening? Do you listen to what they are saying rather than simply hearing the words?

Author's Bio: 

Sharon Stiles is a hypnotist who uses CBT, NLP and energy techniques to help people deal with mind blocks and improve their lives. She offers CDs and online seminars at and individual sessions in Bristol UK and worldwide by webcam.