Chances are you already have an emotional sniper in your life-you just don’t realize it. Emotional snipers are those friends (or frenemies) who can never be truly happy for you. You know the type-the friend who can’t resist taking a cheap shot just to make you look bad or the person who encourages you to try something new and then belittles your efforts. They help you with one hand, while taking with the other hand.
On the surface they may appear to be supportive and your biggest advocate but when it comes down to it they can’t resist any opportunity to undermine your efforts. Whether it’s your coworker who seeks out opportunities to highlight your weaknesses or your mother-in-law who compliments your meal while simultaneously calling your recipe “unusual”, the message is clear-their “friendship” is predicated on another, hidden agenda.
How Can I Tell If Someone Is An Emotional Sniper?
How can you tell someone is an Emotional Sniper? There are usually a few signs:
- Watch their reaction when they don’t get their way-they will usually show their hand
- They make you feel bad or guilt trip you to get their way
- They talk about you behind your back
- They interfere with your life and/or relationship under the pretext of “helping”
- They give you frequent backhanded compliments
- They want you to do well, but just not better than them
- They seem to compete or compare themselves with you on everything
- They make everything about them and rarely reciprocate
- They encourage you to share your innermost secrets, then use them against you
How to Handle An Emotional Sniper
So how do you handle an emotional sniper? There are a couples of options-the first and easiest method is to disengage. If you are unable to get away from them or cut them out of your life entirely, it is best to disengage. Disengagement can be accomplished a variety of ways depending on the situation.
- Walk away. Find an exit strategy (aka excuse) and physically remove yourself from their presence.
- Don’t take the bait-refuse to be drawn into the negativity. If you must, simply acknowledge the negative statement and then move on. There is no need to validate or even perpetuate this type of negative discussion. Remember-it is not your responsibility to manage their emotions.
- Set firm and clear boundaries and then follow through, For example, if a work colleague continues to push you for more details on your personal life that you don’t want to share,
Another way to handle an emotional sniper is to disenfranchise them by exposing their hidden agenda. Emotional Snipers rely on covert behaviors-they like to take you by surprise and work behind the scenes revealing their agenda only when they are ready to strike. If you expose their intentions you can short circuit their agenda. So how do you expose them?
- Respond to their sniping with a positive interpretation of your own. For example, . The key is to stay positive-it will take their breath away.
- Be direct and assertive.
When dealing with Emotional Snipers:
- Expose the sniper. Getting the Sniper out in the open and putting them on the spot can potentially be enough to stop the Sniper’s behavior.