It is likely that the word “ultracrepidarian” does not say anything to you, but it is just likely that you are surrounded by these people, people whose attitudes and words bitter your life slowly, making you feel inferior.
The word is not officially recognized, but comes from Latin, by the union of two words: ultra (going beyond) and crepidarius (shoemaker), which in turn refers to the crepida (sandal). Its use was documented for the first time in 1819, but to understand its meaning we have to go much further back in time.
If you do not know, do not criticize
Apelles of Kos was one of the most important and famous painters of ancient Greece. In fact, Philip of Macedonia and Alexander the Great relied on his brush to perpetuate their image. Although his works have not reached our days, his style has been described in detail.
In fact, Pliny the Elder resumed an anecdote interpretated by the artist who gave rise to a famous expression that we still use today.
Apelles usually used to show his paintings in public to know if people liked them and to perfect the details that did not convince him. On one of these occasions, a shoemaker criticized the shape of the sandals worn by one of the characters in the painting.
Apelles accepted the criticisms and decided to change them. When he finished, he brought the picture back into the square. When the shoemaker saw it, he noticed that the painter had paid attention to his words, so he decided to criticize other elements of the portrait.
Apelles simply replies: “supra crepidam sutor iudicaret”, which would be “do not judge anything apart from sandals”.
Later, spread the phrase: “shoemaker, do your job!”, used to silence those people who are trying to criticize things that are not their responsibility. And precisely this is the meaning of the word ultracrepidarian.
When opinions become destructive criticism
The people we could call ultracrepidarian in popular language would be the “know-it-all”, the ones who know everything. These people do not think twice before expressing their opinion and often go even further: they criticize.
Of course we are all different and, as such, we have different and sometimes conflicting ideas. We have the right to express our opinion, but we have to be careful not to make ours become a destructive criticism about something we do not know.
How to differentiate a person who expresses his opinion from an ultracrepidarian?
– His criticism is not intended to help the other but to prove his alleged “knowledge.”
– He expresses his opinion with no nuances, as if it were an absolute truth, so as not to leave room for dialogue.
– He bases on the idea that there is only one right way to do things, his
– His opinion damages, excludes and minimizes someone
– Criticism is not directed towards behavior but to the person, which means that it makes him feel bad, often guilty
Although these people do not realize it, they often become very annoying because they express opinions about everything, even on issues that are not of their own competence. And the worst thing is that they cannot normally argue their arguments because they usually start from the assumption that the others are all wrong. Therefore, they do not bring anything positive to the situation, but usually generate more chaos or even create feelings of inferiority that do not help the other person to solve the problem.
In fact, their criticisms are often distorted as they start from a limited point of view, so their goal is not to help solve the problems, but only to give an opinion centered on gaps and errors aimed at disabling the other person.
These people constantly criticize because they desperately need to feel important. And since they cannot shine of their own light, they try to turn off the light of others. At the base there is often a deep lack of empathy and an excessive ego.
How to protect yourself from ultracrepidarian?
The most important thing is to prevent that their criticism and attitude destabilizes us emotionally. Therefore, the best thing is to act as Apelles and, without attacking the person, thank him for his opinion and resolve the matter. We should not fall into the trouble of trying to argue their arguments, because we would probably go into a blind alley.
Remember that you can only be affected by what you give power. Therefore, if you already know that that person has the habit of expressing opinions on everything and thinks he is the custodian of the absolute truth, do not pay him more attention than is necessary.
Likewise, it is important to be careful not to turn ourselves into ultracrepidarian, as the temptation to express opinions on everything and everyone is very strong. Therefore, before giving an opinion, we must:
– Make sure we know what we’re talking about
– Express it in the respect of the other, without using offenses or personal judgments
– Focus on how to improve, not in the negative aspects that undermine trust