Author Topic: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion  (Read 5880 times)

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gen xer

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Is there any way of politely standing up for yourself when a belittling / condescending comment comes your way....but you don't want to make "too" big a deal of it?

This weekend we had company - friends we have known for a long time and love dearly.  During our breakfast conversation we were discussing cars and what we like to drive, might buy next time around etc...I jokingly made a comment that I would buy a particular model of car just to spite my DH to which my friend responded - quite seriously - that I was being really childish.....and she would not let it go.  She repeated how childish I was being several times

Trust me - my comment was made in jest.....I would not buy anything just to spite someone....but all the same I could feel myself getting embarrassed and defensive ( although I was trying hard not to )

This is not a "toxic" relationship or something that is deserving of a cut direct or anything really drastic....but I hate that feeling of being put down in front of others - it always feels like it isn't worth making a huge issue of but at the same time I don't like feeling like a chump who is going to meekly take anything that is dished out.  I would like to know if there is any way of neutralizing a comment like that?  Any ideas?
« Last Edit: December 02, 2013, 08:21:02 PM by gen xer »

NyaChan

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Re: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2013, 11:55:50 AM »
I would oh so gently and oh so understandingly say, "Sweetie, I don't think you're quite getting the joke.  I wouldn't worry about it so much" and give a pitying smile for some extra oomph.

Eden

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Re: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2013, 12:02:09 PM »
I think in the moment is the time to address it and I think a matter-of-fact comment, "I don't think you realize I was just joking." And if she continued, "I get it. You don't approve. Have you tried the beandip?"

pierrotlunaire0

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Re: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2013, 12:10:51 PM »
I think in the moment is the time to address it and I think a matter-of-fact comment, "I don't think you realize I was just joking." And if she continued, "I get it. You don't approve. Have you tried the beandip?"

This is perfect.
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heartmug

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Re: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2013, 12:12:27 PM »
I would oh so gently and oh so understandingly say, "Sweetie, I don't think you're quite getting the joke.  I wouldn't worry about it so much" and give a pitying smile for some extra oomph.

Perfect.
One option in a tug of war with someone is just to drop the rope.

gellchom

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Re: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2013, 12:34:09 PM »
I like the suggestions you've gotten.  I'm just posting to add that I think that this is a really good question, and we'll all be able to learn from the answers.  Thanks for posting it.

TootsNYC

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Re: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2013, 12:35:34 PM »
I would oh so gently and oh so understandingly say, "Sweetie, I don't think you're quite getting the joke.  I wouldn't worry about it so much" and give a pitying smile for some extra oomph.

Maybe not quite the pitying smile, but this might be the first tactic.

If that doesn't work, I might get quite serious, "I'm a little alarmed that you don't realize I was joking! Do you genuinely think I was serious? What's going on here?"

miranova

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Re: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2013, 12:58:28 PM »
I had something like this happen to me recently....where I felt belittled but didn't want to create a huge drama.  I had posted on FB for book recommendations and I got a response from a family member:  "Don't you have anything else to do other than read?"  I found it pretty insulting, and no, it wasn't a joke.  This person has probably never read a full length book in her life and I guess she thinks it's a waste of time.  Did I mention the book recommendations were for a vacation, meaning I wasn't supposed to be working or anything else during that time?  I ended up responding that reading was a luxury for me and exactly what I wanted to do while on vacation.  Ugh.

TurtleDove

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Re: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion
« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2013, 01:31:47 PM »
If this were to happen to me, I would laugh.  Refuse to be belittled.  Assume it's a joke and act accordingly.  "Childish?  If that were my goal I'd buy a Barbie corvette!"  Don't give a belittler any power.

gramma dishes

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Re: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion
« Reply #9 on: December 02, 2013, 01:42:16 PM »
Were there more people at the table than just you and that one friend?  If so, how did the others react?

For her to make such a huge deal over something that quite obviously was said in jest would be worrisome to me.  Is everything okay in her life right now?

gen xer

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Re: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion
« Reply #10 on: December 02, 2013, 01:47:34 PM »
I had something like this happen to me recently....where I felt belittled but didn't want to create a huge drama.  I had posted on FB for book recommendations and I got a response from a family member:  "Don't you have anything else to do other than read?"  I found it pretty insulting, and no, it wasn't a joke.  This person has probably never read a full length book in her life and I guess she thinks it's a waste of time.  Did I mention the book recommendations were for a vacation, meaning I wasn't supposed to be working or anything else during that time?  I ended up responding that reading was a luxury for me and exactly what I wanted to do while on vacation.  Ugh.

I was actually just going to post about what to say when it isn't a joke.  The suggestions I got were great BTW - thanks everyone for sending them - they are non-angry and matter of fact and I will be sure to try them out when dealing with those people who take things a little too literally  ;)

Miranova has a good point though.....often when it is is a putdown we can't say "you misunderstood my joke"....in fact I remember being told the same thing - I love to read and it is pretty much my favourite "downtime" thing to do.....and someone had to say in a bemused tone "Wow you must have an awful lot of time on your hands"

Of course I got defensive : "Hey I work full-time, I have two young kids, I spend lots of time with family and friends, I hike, I ski etc"....red-faced and feeling like an idiot for trying to justify myself.

It makes me wonder why some people feel they can say stuff like that to others.  I used to just sit silently and seethe because I  was brought up in a "don't make waves" kind of house but now I would rather politely shut it down.

gen xer

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Re: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion
« Reply #11 on: December 02, 2013, 01:58:04 PM »
If this were to happen to me, I would laugh.  Refuse to be belittled.  Assume it's a joke and act accordingly.  "Childish?  If that were my goal I'd buy a Barbie corvette!"  Don't give a belittler any power.

I did try to laugh it off but I was still embarrassed ( to answer Gramma Dishes question there were two others at the table besides us ).  I know I shouldn't give them any power by becoming flustered and defensive....but unfortunately in front of others it comes on me even when I try to to talk myself out of it.  Part of me is bothered wondering if others are embarrassed for me!

TurtleDove

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Re: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion
« Reply #12 on: December 02, 2013, 02:13:00 PM »
I love to read and it is pretty much my favourite "downtime" thing to do.....and someone had to say in a bemused tone "Wow you must have an awful lot of time on your hands"

Of course I got defensive : "Hey I work full-time, I have two young kids, I spend lots of time with family and friends, I hike, I ski etc"....red-faced and feeling like an idiot for trying to justify myself.

So long as YOU are comfortable with how you spend your time, why would you feel the need to justify it, especially to someone who apparently does not share your values?  I have found that, *especially* when I know someone is trying to hurt me or be negatively judgmental, refusing to "grasp" their intent is magic.  So if the person who said, "Wow you must have an awful lot of time on your hands" was trying to put me down, I would perhaps say, "Yep! And I enjoy every minute of it!" Refusing to acknowledge that someone has negatively judged you tends to deflate them. 

miranova

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Re: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion
« Reply #13 on: December 02, 2013, 02:20:05 PM »
I love to read and it is pretty much my favourite "downtime" thing to do.....and someone had to say in a bemused tone "Wow you must have an awful lot of time on your hands"

Of course I got defensive : "Hey I work full-time, I have two young kids, I spend lots of time with family and friends, I hike, I ski etc"....red-faced and feeling like an idiot for trying to justify myself.

So long as YOU are comfortable with how you spend your time, why would you feel the need to justify it, especially to someone who apparently does not share your values?  I have found that, *especially* when I know someone is trying to hurt me or be negatively judgmental, refusing to "grasp" their intent is magic.  So if the person who said, "Wow you must have an awful lot of time on your hands" was trying to put me down, I would perhaps say, "Yep! And I enjoy every minute of it!" Refusing to acknowledge that someone has negatively judged you tends to deflate them.

While I agree that refusing to be defensive can deflate people, I personally am not going to lie in order to do so.  I do NOT have an awful lot of time on my hands, so I'm not going to say that I do.  In my case, the person commenting knows full well how busy I am, her comment was more of a judgment on HOW I spent my vacation.  Others may disagree, but sometimes I think calling people out is needed.  I don't want to spend the next 30 years putting up with insults from this person.  (And it is close family, so short of a cut direct I will have to spend time with her).

TurtleDove

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Re: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion
« Reply #14 on: December 02, 2013, 02:28:41 PM »
While I agree that refusing to be defensive can deflate people, I personally am not going to lie in order to do so.  I do NOT have an awful lot of time on my hands, so I'm not going to say that I do.  In my case, the person commenting knows full well how busy I am, her comment was more of a judgment on HOW I spent my vacation.  Others may disagree, but sometimes I think calling people out is needed.  I don't want to spend the next 30 years putting up with insults from this person.  (And it is close family, so short of a cut direct I will have to spend time with her).

For me, I would ask myself whether I care what this person thinks about how I chose to spend my vacation time, and why I care about what this person thinks.  For me, I am pretty confident and comfortable in the way I choose to live my life.  If someone disapproves, I first ask myself, "Do I care what this person thinks about me?"  If the answer is, "no," I'm done. Moving on.  If the answer is, "yes, I value this person's opinion of me," then I take a look at my behavior and choices and decide whether I am still comfortable with them, knowing this person disapproves, or whether their opinion may cause me to change my behavior or choices. I cannot please all people all the time, and for the most part, the people whose opinions I value don't negatively judge me.