Author Topic: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion  (Read 6289 times)

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Redneck Gravy

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Re: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion
« Reply #15 on: December 02, 2013, 02:30:05 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.

I say look them in the eye and ask "are you judging me?"

TurtleDove

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Re: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion
« Reply #16 on: December 02, 2013, 02:31:18 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.

I say look them in the eye and ask "are you judging me?"

Oooooh, this is brilliant and would have the same effect!  I love it!

miranova

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Re: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion
« Reply #17 on: December 02, 2013, 02:33:34 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.

As I said, I don't care what she thinks about me.  I do care that she is insulting me in public.

Hmmmmm

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Re: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion
« Reply #18 on: December 02, 2013, 02:37:27 PM »
I'm struggling with this one. I can't imagine a good friend continuing to harp on my being immature about a silly joke like this.  Was her issue that she thinks joking about doing something to spite your DH is childish or did she really believe that you meant the joke?

Most of my friend's who took something seriously that I intended as a joke would say "Oh, I didn't get it" not call me immature or childish.

TurtleDove

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Re: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion
« Reply #19 on: December 02, 2013, 02:37:37 PM »
As I said, I don't care what she thinks about me.  I do care that she is insulting me in public.

I guess I didn't take it so much as an insult, but if you did, I think it says something about her, and nothing about you.  I would imagine your friends and people you care about would view it the same way.  They might be offended that this person has insulted you, if they saw it that way, but they would not likely think, "Hey, that rude person is right!  miranova totally spends her time all wrong!"

EllenS

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Re: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion
« Reply #20 on: December 02, 2013, 02:44:02 PM »
I think, if you take the implied negative judgement and turn it into a positive, that works whether it was intended as a put-down or not.

"you're being childish" = I might start singing the standard "Young at Heart" or say something about the importance of keeping a sense of humor.

"you have too much time on your hands" = "oh, I MAKE time for the things I really love, don't we all?" or "Reading is like breathing to me".

If you want to confront, I would still give the person the benefit of the doubt, at least in words: "I don't think you realize how negative and judgmental that sounded," kind of in a "your slip is showing" way.
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miranova

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Re: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion
« Reply #21 on: December 02, 2013, 02:46:54 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.

I say look them in the eye and ask "are you judging me?"

Oooooh, this is brilliant and would have the same effect!  I love it!

I like this too!

Goosey

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Re: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion
« Reply #22 on: December 02, 2013, 02:49:28 PM »
There is nothing wrong with defending yourself against a public put-down, even if you don't care about the person giving it. If it is not said angrily or insultingly in return and makes you FEEL better, do it. A public correction to an insulting comment may  make them hesitate to do such a thing to you in the future.

gen xer

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Re: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion
« Reply #23 on: December 02, 2013, 02:54:35 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.

Rationally speaking I agree with you - we "shouldn't" feel the need to justify and we "shouldn't" be embarrassed etc....but I think a lot of us ( obviously myself ) the rational goes out the window and we feel what we feel despite ourselves.  I certainly wish it didn't bother me....but I can't pretend that it doesn't - and it isn't that I am thinking "maybe they're right...I really do have too much time on my hands" ( because I know it isn't really the case )....but more that they feel they are entitled to say it in the first place.

That's the crux of it for me anyway....I can't speak for others although i would be curious to hear what they say on the matter!

EllenS

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Re: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion
« Reply #24 on: December 02, 2013, 03:19:06 PM »
Gen xer, If something really bothers you that much, there is no reason to pretend it didn't.  I think it is OK to just not respond, or to take some time. If somebody makes a crack at you that makes you feel hurt or defensive, just don't respond until you have something polite/appropriate you can say.  It isn't a competition and you don't have to "win".

Our culture values glibness and quick answers, but your character is revealed by what you DO with those feelings.  It is OK to be the kind of person who does not always have a glib comeback, and in fact your relationships may wind up being deeper and better because you don't sluff off feelings and keep up the "game" of banter.  Your real friends, or people worth keeping in your life, will realize they have overstepped and stop "playing" so rough with you.

Have you ever read CS Lewis' quote on flippancy? "It is a thousand miles away from joy; it deadens, instead of sharpening, the intellect; and it excites no affection between those who practice it."

A lack of flippancy is no flaw. Nobody ever looked back on their deathbed and grieved all the "comebacks" they missed out on.

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Margo

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Re: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion
« Reply #25 on: December 02, 2013, 03:21:42 PM »
I agree. *knowing * you don't have to defend or justify your actions doesn't always help.

One way of dealing with the comment could be to deliberately not treat it as an insult - e.g.

Rude Person: "You must have an awful lot of time on your hands"
You "Thank you - I had to work pretty hard to make the time for this, as it's so important"

you respond as though she were complimenting you, and it's hard for someone to then turn round and say "hey, actually I was trying to be mean"

TurtleDove

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Re: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion
« Reply #26 on: December 02, 2013, 03:29:41 PM »
Nobody ever looked back on their deathbed and grieved all the "comebacks" they missed out on.

George Constanza will!  Jerk Store!

CreteGirl

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Re: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion
« Reply #27 on: December 02, 2013, 04:12:22 PM »

Our culture values glibness and quick answers, but your character is revealed by what you DO with those feelings.  It is OK to be the kind of person who does not always have a glib comeback, and in fact your relationships may wind up being deeper and better because you don't sluff off feelings and keep up the "game" of banter.  Your real friends, or people worth keeping in your life, will realize they have overstepped and stop "playing" so rough with you.

Have you ever read CS Lewis' quote on flippancy? "It is a thousand miles away from joy; it deadens, instead of sharpening, the intellect; and it excites no affection between those who practice it."

A lack of flippancy is no flaw. Nobody ever looked back on their deathbed and grieved all the "comebacks" they missed out on.

This.  Belittling comments erode friendships.  It is difficult to have meaningful conversations with someone who is taking jabs at you. 

I have a friend who does this.  I plan on telling her that not only is it hurting our friendship, but I require more interesting conversation than talking about what she finds puerile about me.

gen xer

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Re: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion
« Reply #28 on: December 02, 2013, 05:07:24 PM »
Admittedly I just don't want to have to swallow it all the time in the name of being the bigger person.

Maybe it's a character flaw....but I don't really feel like a better person for staying silent.  Instead I feel like a dolt allowing someone to belittle me while meekly enduring.  Nor do I think others admire me for bearing my cross so humbly....more like jeez grow a pair already!

Don't get me wrong...I am happy to let a lot of tactless, mis-spoken things slide - we all slip and say things in ways we wish we hadn't and I don't want to be that type of person who feels compelled to challenge every mother-loving wrong thing someone says....but to me there is a huge difference between speaking carelessly and a deliberate put-down.

Those are the things I need a little help with standing up to without escalating things...if it's possible!

ETA....one last thought....

I guess I just don't want to come across as an easy target - you know - oh Gen Xer will take anything anyone dishes out.  To me it is just enabling rude and condescending behaviour out of people.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2013, 08:18:49 PM by gen xer »

TurtleDove

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Re: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion
« Reply #29 on: December 02, 2013, 05:22:49 PM »
Maybe it's a character flaw....but I don't really feel like a better person for staying silent.  Instead I feel like a dolt allowing someone to belittle me while meekly enduring.  Nor do I think others admire me for bearing my cross so humbly....more like jeez grow a pair already!


Maybe I missed it, but I didn't see anyone suggest you stay silent.  I saw people suggest you not allow the person to think you actually felt belittled.  Don't let them think they got to you.  That's why I suggested not justifying your actions but instead making light of the comment, because of course no decent human being would have actually meant to be that rude, right?  Also, as I posted upthread, I don't know everyone would agree that the comment was belittling you.