Social Question

livelaughlove21's avatar

How do you deal with condescending people?

Asked by livelaughlove21 (14586 points ) November 29th, 2012 from iPhone

Pretty self-explanatory question, but here are some details…

There are few things I hate more than a condescending person. I can’t stand being patronized or belittled, and I often find myself wondering what is the best way to handle these seemingly unavoidable people.

The worst kind of person, I think, is one who thinks their point of view is the only “right” one and simply refuses to listen to what anyone else has to say. This drives me absolutely nuts.

Some Of My Favorites
– “Ha! You’re so young.”
– “You’ll learn one day…”
– “You amuse me.”
– “I don’t have time to argue about this.”
– “You [women, young people, Americans, etc] crack me up.”

Just who do these people think they are?!

So, tell me some stories about condescending people you know or some of your favorite examples of condescension. And tell me how you deal with these people. Do you fight fire with fire or take the high road?

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27 Answers

Bellatrix's avatar

After my first marriage ended.

Older brother (who hadn’t seen me since I was 21, 18 years before): “Well I can imagine you would be quite difficult to live with”.

Me: “Everyone says we’re very alike”.

I could cite so many examples just from within my family!

trailsillustrated's avatar

You have to stop letting it get to you. Really, become inured to it. I have heard sooooo much of this type of shite in my life. Whatever. It bothers me not. This is the sign of an uninteresting, stupid or selfish boor. There are so many people out there with better manners.

snowberry's avatar

I’m fond of “Thanks for the information/advice. I’ll take it under advisement.” It always throws them off. They don’t know what to say, and I can walk away.

YARNLADY's avatar

I never learned to read other people’s mind, so I have no idea what their motives are. I just take what people say at face value, and assume they want to have a conversation, or help me.

Shippy's avatar

Smack them on the back and say “You’re RIGHT!” But you know, smack them just enough to leave a hand mark.

AshlynM's avatar

I hate confrontation and will avoid it at all costs.

JLeslie's avatar

Wow, what a great variety of answers so far. @YARNLADY I really think you are onto something.

For me, it really depends who it is coming from. From people I love and completely trust, I think they are actually trying to be helpful. I try to not be reactive and really listen to what they are saying. I might tell them what they said hurt me, but at the same time I might thank them for pointing it out.

From people who aren’t doing their job well, I think they are stupid, ignorant, or up on some high horse. I usually challenge whatever they are saying with facts or logic, which typically gets me nowhere, because again, they are stupid, ignorant, or on some high horse. So, that method does not necessarily work very well actually. I think in these cases it is better to do what @trailsillustrated does and just move on.

Shippy's avatar

I too think @YARNLADY had a brilliant slant on this.

elbanditoroso's avatar

I laugh.

Never take that stuff personally. Their condescension is their problem, not mine. Mostly it’s based on their insecurities, not on any flaw that I have.

On the other hand, this gives me a good insight to their personality. And I remember it for future encounters.

wundayatta's avatar

I am only condescending to people who show me an attitude. They act like they know stuff they don’t understand and they act like I’m nothing. Then I don’t care. Fuck ‘em. We’re not having a conversation. We’re just pissing on each other. I’ll condescend to them because I don’t give a shit about them any more. Not when they’ve deliberately set out to piss me off.

Of course, they usually blame it on me. People I condescend to tend to be clueless.

jordym84's avatar

Condescending people don’t bother me. The people who matter in my life would never be condescending towards me, and those who are condescending really don’t matter much, and neither does what they say. Instead of getting defensive and all riled up, I do the next best thing and take the high road. Nothing pisses them off more than knowing that their jabs have no effect on you ;)

Like the great Dr. Seuss said “Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

KNOWITALL's avatar

There’s no way to deal with us except to tell us eff off – lol
I said two of those to you in the STD conversation, I’m pretty sure.

Unbroken's avatar

Meh I usually let it go. Depends on my mood and how often I have to encounter them. If it really bugs me I will persue it but I have no formulaic equation as I generally deal with all differently as they are all different and have different relationships to me.

CWOTUS's avatar

I can understand your being upset by some of the remarks, because no one likes to feel as if one’s experience, input, ideas, etc. aren’t taken seriously. And it’s true that most of those “arguments” are nothing more than put-downs, and on that basis rude.

But the facts are that:
– You are young;
– You are inexperienced;
– You are (apparently) charming and amusing, maybe somewhat naive (that’s not a put-down);
– You are (apparently) a young American woman.

So what? They’ve pointed out the obvious. If you want to prove them wrong, then do that with results on the ground. Don’t expect that someone with more age, experience, knowledge, from another part of the world, a different culture, perhaps, will simply take your word for something that they believe they know better than you. Just acknowledge the end of the debate and move on.

The only “argument” given to you there that may have any validity is “I don’t have time for this right now.” You should acknowledge that gracefully.

For one thing, you might also recognize that a refusal to acknowledge the superiority of your idea simply because of your age, experience, gravity, culture or gender is a form of logical fallacy, a sort of ad hominem argument that the person may be relying upon to extricate themselves from an unwinnable debate. You can’t correct their manners or their world view until you “win the argument” by proving yourself right. In these cases, only time and experience will do that.

And keep in mind that unless you have absolutely certain knowledge that the other person doesn’t have, apart from “being certain” or “feeling that you just have to be right”, which is nowhere near as certain as many seem to think, your argument may also be wrong, and you just haven’t learned that yourself, yet.

Personally, I would ask the person to correct my facts when they had more time, and request that in future debates they not rely upon ad hominem arguments to dismiss your valid points. Keep the communication channels open, and you may learn something. You don’t know everything yet. No one else does, either, or ever did or will.

ucme's avatar

Point & laugh mostly.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@KNOWITALL What STD conversation? I know we had a conversation about etiquette and talking about money, but I wasn’t referring specifically to you, or quoting you. Those were just general examples. :)

@CWOTUS I don’t have a problem with people pointing out I’m young, or a woman, or an American. It’s the manner in which they say those things that makes it condescending. Completely disregarding my point of view BECAUSE I’m young is insulting. Stating that the only reason I have a certain opinion is because I’m young and naive is also insulting. I’m 23, not 15, and being older than me does not automatically make one wiser. I’m a mature, intelligent adult, and if I don’t patronize you, I shouldn’t be patronized. Laughing at someone’s point of view is not only condescending, it’s rude.

My problem is that I get angry and then keep arguing and they, of course, continue acting as they do, and it goes on forever. I need to learn to ignore it, but that’s damn hard for me to do.

CWOTUS's avatar

What I was trying to say in that roundabout way was that your next, indeed, your only response at that point is, “You’re making an ad hominem logically fallacious argument. Do you want to concede the entire debate, or are you willing to defend your position if I give you another chance?”

Go on the offensive, but politely, and put them on notice. (Continuing to attempt to argue facts with someone who simply brushes you off and ignores the facts is a waste of time and a self-inflicted insult to your own intelligence. It’s why I’ve given up ‘debating’ with some in this forum.)

Shippy's avatar

Normally in an argument or debate everyone thinks they are right. If the person is making sense to me, I will listen to anthers point of view. I don’t “down” them though. Like say you are uneducated or stupid, or young etc., that is just rude. I often fight fire with fire. Which in itself is immature and pointless. Because then I’ve lowered myself to their standard (if they have one).

Questions on here are a great point in case, and also a great learning curve on this type of thing. If I see for example crass answers with no back up or foundation or visible openness for debate. I realize I am dealing with a egotistical idiot and so I make a mental note to not value what they say. I place a very high value on a person who can stand their ground, not insult people and are intelligent in their answers. It goes for real life too. I also avoid all types of people who put me down in anyway, if this is physically possible in every day life. So should you.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

It’s usually me. I’m usually the condescending one. If someone’s condescending to me, it doesn’t move me in any way. I have to consider someone my equal for it to bother me. That happens rarely.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I’ve definitely noticed that when reading some of your replies to questions on here. I must say it’s not often that I find people that admit to being condescending or are…proud (?) of that. Just out of curiosity, what is the reason that it’s rare that you consider someone your equal? What exactly makes you so different [read: better]?

Blondesjon's avatar

Oh, them?

I don’t.

They are beneath me.

ragingloli's avatar

I, of course, condescend back.
And maybe throw in a “I fucked your mother last night” joke.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@livelaughlove21 Different, not better but not really different either. Let me explain, I hardly think people walk around thinking everyone is their intellectual/emotional equal. This has nothing, of course, to do with people actually being equal in terms of political rights or access. This just has to do with who you hang with, making your in and out groups. Everyone does it, they say ‘oh they’re not like us’ and ‘we’re like this’ – that’s people saying, implicitly, they’re not my equals. People know if in their relationship they’re not equals. Most of the time, that’s not what people care to have in relationships. I do. I do in friendships and in love want to be with someone that can inspire and understand me, not someone I have to catch up all the time. Does that sound selfish? Perhaps it is but I’ve got one life to live and it’s not my goal to spend that life catching people up. Now, you may say, you have no business catching yourself up to whatever it is I consider important and then, of course, you’re right. You might find other things interesting or whatever but it’s not about interests, it’s how open minded one is to new ideas, how one wants to learn. So my equal doesn’t have all the same interests or hobbies or life as me, they’re just like me in how open and eager to learn and discuss they are, how willing they are to connect disparate parts of society, etc.

I’m not proud or not proud of being condescending. Pride is sort of one of those things that I don’t concern myself all that much with – unless it’s being proud of my children or partner in their accomplishments. I’m also not different really from any other person. But, let’s be honest, I don’t believe I have to be likeable to everyone. People who want to be liked by everyone are superficial, in my opinion. I don’t also go out of my way to have people dislike me, that’s a waste of time. I am condescending to some on fluther because have you seen what they have to say? And they are condescending to me, so what? That’s half the time why people are on here, to watch someone bitch or to watch someone be condescending and then to say how much they want it otherwise. I’ve seen all the shades of Fluther and it’s very rarely what it should be, people coming together to help others.

ucme's avatar

Points & laughs at roughly 29.6% of the fluther-fuckers ;¬}

Adele's avatar

Hello I just realized this question was made back in Nov 2012… but here I am looking for clues.. my 18 years old son said to me today I was condecending… the truth I look up the Word because english is not may native language and there are some words that do escape my list..

I asked him to pay attention on how to make an egg sándwich since he is leaving for college and he doesnt know how to cook… so how he expects to survive without mom or the maid if he can´t fix a sándwich…

Was I condecendent?? he said he hates that from me… that I am always that way to him…

snowberry's avatar

I suppose you assume he does not know how to take care of himself and he thinks he does. If he this is the way he thinks, he is arrogant, but that’s often typical of someone who is very full of himself and is about to step into adulthood. If I were you I would step back and let him deal with life.

Next time you are tempted to tell him something that could help him, first ask him if he would like any suggestions regarding cooking, laundry, etc. If he says no, well, you have your answer.

If yes, you can tell him over the phone or better yet, suggest that he check out some cooking websites with videos. Sometimes the best teacher someone like this can have is learning to deal with the consequences of his actions, and how to resolve his problems on his own.

I know this will be painful for you as a parent, but this is how he’s choosing to “cut the apron strings” as we put it in English. It’s part of growing up.

snowberry's avatar

And if he finds himself overspending because he has to pay someone else to cook his food or do his laundry for him, explain to him that he’s on a budget, and you can only afford to help him so much. After that he can get a part time job to help with expenses or learn how to cook, clean, etc. for himself.

He’ll figure it out, but it won’t be easy for you.

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