We all know a condescending person that loves to put others down, it’s time to learn how to deal with them.

Condescending people are everywhere. Whether they think it’s funny, or maybe just don’t realize they’re doing it, it’s important to know how to handle the situation properly so they don’t drive you crazy.

Signs of a condescending person

1. Full of themselves

They think a lot of their own skills and intelligence, often believing themselves to be more skilled in a certain subject than people who are specifically trained.

2. Boasting

They love boasting about their own achievements and will find any opportunity to do so.

3. Using offensive nicknnames

They call you pet names like ‘honey’ or ‘sweetie’, the only purpose of which is to patronize and make others feel small and inferior. These nicknames tend to be highly gendered and exclude other sexes.

4. Always right

They think they know everything and are always right, making it particularly difficult to approach issues with them.

5. They love giving people advice

A condescending person is quick to give out advice, even when you didn’t ask for it.

6. Putting others down

They put others down, often being overly critical and gossiping behind people’s backs.

7. Seeking the spotlight

They enjoy being the center of attention and will try to find ways to garner as much attention as possible.

8. Not taking others’ feelings seriously

They don’t take others’ feelings seriously, often telling people to ‘lighten up,’ ‘take it easy’ or ‘calm down’. These phrases put the blame onto the person who is insulted or upset, and it is an unfair way to deal with other people’s feelings.

9. Fans of correcting others

A condescending person is quick to correct others, and often in public. It’s another way to feel better about themselves at someone else’s expense.

10. People’s boundaries don’t mean anything to them

They don’t respect other people’s boundaries, feeling entitled to cross those limits.

11. Interrupting others

They interrupt you, showing that they don’t respect you, or what you’re saying.

12. Sarcasm

They use sarcasm often, avoiding what they mean directly so that they can absolve themselves of blame if someone gets hurt.

13. Competitive and jealous

They don’t celebrate the achievements of others and can become jealous when others succeed instead of them.

14. Seeking praise

They often try to top other people’s achievements, giving themselves more glory and seeking more praise.

15. Explaining the obvious

They explain things that people already know or are maybe even more skilled at, which is just downright annoying.

16. They love correcting others’ pronunciation and mistakes

A condescending person will interrupt to correct pronunciation or to tell others they’re wrong. This can look like they’re being helpful, but in reality, it is completely unnecessary and makes others feel uncomfortable.

17. ‘Actually’ liking things

They say they ‘actually’ like something instead of just liking it, which quickly reduces the value of the thing they like and anything which had been done beforehand.

18. Name-dropping

They name-drop as much as they can, letting you know just how important and likable they are.

19. Not apologizing

They don’t apologize properly, instead of using words like, ‘I’m sorry you feel that way,’ or outright denying that it was their intention to insult you and, therefore, not apologizing at all.

20. Improper body language

They might pat you on the head, crossing major personal and professional boundaries. This gives them a feeling of superiority and is incredibly rude.

Why are people condescending?

Picking up on whether a person is being condescending is pretty easy, and someone might present one or all of the above behaviors. However, it can be difficult to understand why someone is acting that way.

In fact, there could be a whole list of reasons why someone is condescending. The through-line of these reasons is that condescending people feel a need for power. They want to keep people feeling small so they feel big.

Condescending behaviors allow them to feel that way, but could also be a sign that they are insecure. Patronizing people acts as protection, drawing the attention away from someone’s misgivings and weaknesses.

Why you should protect yourself from condescending people

Condescension can easily be laughed off, but it’s actually no laughing matter. While they might be trying to make themselves feel better, they are making others feel worse.

Feeling belittled or of lesser value in a workforce can be destabilizing to mental health and wellbeing. That negativity in a relationship can be even more harmful.

A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that being with a negative person increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and metabolic disorders. So, while it might be easily shrugged off at the time, the long-term damage is very real, making it important to deal with the condescending behavior properly.

How to deal with a condescending person

It can be easy to get agitated when being patronized, but fighting fire with fire means the situation will likely only get worse. Getting upset only gives them another opportunity to tell you to ‘calm down,’ making you feel even smaller.

Try to stay calm and follow some of these alternative reactions. These tips focus more on self-preservation than changing the condescending person in front of you. It’s important to remember that you are not responsible for changing others, you can only manage your own responses.

Take a deep breath before doing anything this will allow you to stay calm and collected so that your reaction does not spur them on further. Don’t lose your temper and think before you speak.

1. Be assertive, without being patronizing

Be clear and firm about your boundaries without making them feel bad. Point out their behavior without outright blaming them and explain why their behavior upsets you. Remind them of your wants and needs, and let them know what you need from the relationship.

2. Be honest

Standing up for yourself is so important. Be honest with the other person and let them know that their condescending behavior is unwarranted, unfair, and demeaning. They may not realize how their actions are coming across, so telling them can help them become more self-aware.

3. Be aware of your body language

Be aware of your body language and try to stay neutral. Crossing your arms, pointing fingers, rolling your eyes, or getting closer to someone can come across as aggressive.

Neutralize your body language and try to keep the height neutral. If they are sitting, sit also. If they’re standing, stand up. This gives no person a feeling of an upper ground so that you can talk as equals.

4. Try not to get defensive

Your choice of words is also important as being defensive can make the situation worse. Don’t just tell someone they’re wrong. Try to respond calmly and let them know you understand where they’re coming from, but share why you think another approach is better.

If their method is difficult or even impossible, explain to them the barriers so that they understand where you’re coming from.

5. Ask for clarification

Sometimes, the tone of a person’s voice or the way that they say things can come across as condescending, but they’re actually trying to be helpful. Asking them to clarify, while at the same time calling them on the fact you feel patronized can help with communication in the future.

6. If in a workplace, seek support from the HR department

HR is there for a reason, and if tackling the problem independently hasn’t helped, it might be time to seek help elsewhere.

7. If in a relationship, consider seeking professional help

Condescension in a personal relationship can erode the trust and closeness essential for healthy relationships. Seeking professional help can be a way to heal a relationship if it’s one that you don’t want to let go of.

8. Smile and walk away

At the end of the day, sometimes all you can do is walk away and let it roll off your back. Ignore it. Condescending behavior speaks more about the person doing it, and not the person being patronized.


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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Diane Richardson

    This reading has really helped me. I have come across some demeaning people in the retirement facility I live in and I have gained understanding from reading this and will take the advice

  2. J. Chesson

    “Could” be a sign of insecurity? It’s ALWAYS a sign of insecurity. As is wanting power over others – they’re not separate reasons at all. Unless you’re an actual sociopath, the only reason to want power over others is because of your own feelings of inadequacy.

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