Author Topic: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion  (Read 6172 times)

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EllenS

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Re: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion
« Reply #30 on: December 02, 2013, 05:23:32 PM »
Oh, I didn't mean letting it slide.  I mean, literally - staring at them in silence because you have nothing to say.  This will signal to people who didn't mean to hurt you, that they indeed have, and will signal to rude people that you will not be backed into a corner.  Intentional silence is actually a very strong position.

"I don't know how to take that" is also legitimate reply, and perfectly polite.
It is less confrontational than "are you judging me" but it is still a bit of a challenge.  It does, however, give the opportunity for the person to apologize.

But overall, I am not saying you should not respond, just trying to take the pressure off that you don't have to respond in an instant.  Often when I am feeling flustered and can't think of what to say, just giving myself permission to breathe and think about what I really want to get across, helps take down the embarassed/defensive feeling.
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gen xer

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Re: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion
« Reply #31 on: December 02, 2013, 05:43:08 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.
No...nobody said that....maybe I should have been clearer - it was how I used to deal with stuff like that.  Sorry if I was confusing there.

Maybe not everyone would feel belittled by the comment....but I sure did and I would certainly never say something like that to anyone.

Ellen you are right....I get flustered easily and I probably shouldn't try to say anything at the time because it just amps up the defensiveness.....and the last thing I need is someone saying how defensive I am!

Eeep!

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Re: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion
« Reply #32 on: December 02, 2013, 07:00:55 PM »
Oh, I didn't mean letting it slide.  I mean, literally - staring at them in silence because you have nothing to say.  This will signal to people who didn't mean to hurt you, that they indeed have, and will signal to rude people that you will not be backed into a corner.  Intentional silence is actually a very strong position.

"I don't know how to take that" is also legitimate reply, and perfectly polite.It is less confrontational than "are you judging me" but it is still a bit of a challenge.  It does, however, give the opportunity for the person to apologize.

But overall, I am not saying you should not respond, just trying to take the pressure off that you don't have to respond in an instant.  Often when I am feeling flustered and can't think of what to say, just giving myself permission to breathe and think about what I really want to get across, helps take down the embarassed/defensive feeling.

I really like this response!
"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." - Dr. Seuss

gen xer

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Re: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion
« Reply #33 on: December 02, 2013, 07:18:48 PM »
Oh, I didn't mean letting it slide.  I mean, literally - staring at them in silence because you have nothing to say.  This will signal to people who didn't mean to hurt you, that they indeed have, and will signal to rude people that you will not be backed into a corner.  Intentional silence is actually a very strong position.

"I don't know how to take that" is also legitimate reply, and perfectly polite.It is less confrontational than "are you judging me" but it is still a bit of a challenge.  It does, however, give the opportunity for the person to apologize.

But overall, I am not saying you should not respond, just trying to take the pressure off that you don't have to respond in an instant.  Often when I am feeling flustered and can't think of what to say, just giving myself permission to breathe and think about what I really want to get across, helps take down the embarassed/defensive feeling.

I really like this response!

Yes....it is pretty good :) 

immadz

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Re: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion
« Reply #34 on: December 02, 2013, 07:27:59 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.

I get this particular one of having too much time a lot. I just say in a very bemused tone. " Its more like I make time." and leave it at that. Let them think you have superior time management skills.


Piratelvr1121

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Re: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion
« Reply #35 on: December 02, 2013, 07:55:01 PM »
I know someone who really does not seem to get when someone's making a joke.   I referred to my family (meaning myself, DH and 3 boys) as an assortment of mixed nuts.  One girl responded as though she felt she needed to comfort and reassure me that we were not nuts and were very normal.  I jokingly responded "Oh we're not normal at all, and we're just fine with that" or something to the effect of that and she insisted we were normal, not to worry.  I gave up.

This girl is like a dog with a bone though, once she latches onto a subject, she will NOT let up.  She's actually quite difficult to be around for long, one of those you can only take in the very smallest of doses.  If not for the fact that DH and I enjoy her DH's company we'd probably gradually drop them altogether.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars.  You have a right to be here. Be cheerful, strive to be happy. -Desiderata

TurtleDove

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Re: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion
« Reply #36 on: December 02, 2013, 09:55:23 PM »
Yes, some people do not grasp sarcasm or nuances or anything other than literal in speech.  Typically, I cannot be particularly close with them because it is so exhausting for both of us!

Delia DeLyons

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Re: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion
« Reply #37 on: December 02, 2013, 11:43:13 PM »
Oh TurtleDove, my mind immediately and gleefully recalled 'Jerk store', too!!! Classic. :D
Once in a while you get your delight, in the strangest of faces if you look at it right...

Raintree

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Re: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion
« Reply #38 on: December 03, 2013, 03:02:11 AM »
Yes, some people do not grasp sarcasm or nuances or anything other than literal in speech.  Typically, I cannot be particularly close with them because it is so exhausting for both of us!

I was friends with a few of these in college, but only because I was away from home and not really with "my people." I hung out with them because they were available as companions, but I never really felt we were ever really on the same page, humor-wise. It really got a little tiring to be given a blank, curious stare, a concerned look, or a comment, "I can't believe you're so worried about that" in response to some tongue-in-cheek comment of mine. Also, I don't think my sense of humor is particularly odd, because other people seem to get it. It was just that particular small group that seemed to only ever take a literal interpretation of everything. Which was why I never really felt a true connection with them and didn't keep in touch after we all went our separate ways after college.

I take the OP's comment as tongue-in-cheek, good-natured teasing. I'd want to say something like, 'Oh please, so you didn't get that I was joking, that's fine, but feel free to drop it any time."

As for the reading, I'd be too embarrassed to admit I don't read much. Actually, I don't read much (I used to) because I find myself busy, or lazy, or distracted by the internet, but I'd never come out and SAY that on FB. Somebody posted a list of 50 classics with "how many have YOU read?" and I was too embarrassed by my answer (6) to post it. Instead I resolved to try and read more. But to actually brag about not reading or disparage someone who does? Meh, says more about the person saying it than the person doing the reading.

YummyMummy66

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Re: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion
« Reply #39 on: December 03, 2013, 07:12:52 AM »
"Friend, seriously?  I was joking.  The only one being childish right now is you."


Owly

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Re: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion
« Reply #40 on: December 03, 2013, 08:24:08 AM »
"Friend, seriously?  I was joking.  The only one being childish right now is you."

I don't think I'd return her insult. It's unnecessary, and more likely to escalate the situation than defuse it.

bopper

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Re: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion
« Reply #41 on: December 03, 2013, 11:06:17 AM »
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/prescriptions-life/201201/dont-try-reason-unreasonable-people

I like the last one...basically they are telling you to bean dip.

But 4) Focus on them in conversation ...try to turn the conversation away from you to them. 

"Like I have mentioned 4 times already, I was joking. DH has strong opinions about cars. What about you? What cars do you like? Have you ever driven a ABC car?"

edgypeanuts

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Re: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion
« Reply #42 on: December 03, 2013, 11:52:19 AM »
For the reading one I probably would have responded with a quote like- time with a book is never wasted.

The title made me think of one from this weekend though: 
I found some yarn I really liked so I got a little circle knitter and am making a scarf out of it.  I am not particularly crafty (and my in-laws are) I CAN knit with needles, but the cats tend to knock it off the needles and I really like the circle loom better as I don't have to think about it at all.  It is great to pass the time during commercials, etc.  So they started watching football after the Thanksgiving meal and I, having no interest in football, sat with them and knitted.  My MIL immediately commented, "oh look- a little kids knitting loom!"  In her first grade teacher voice.  I just smiled and ignored the comment.  She *might* have been kidding to get a rise out of me, but I am not sure. 



Arila

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Re: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion
« Reply #43 on: December 03, 2013, 04:54:36 PM »
My approach when I want something to end is to bring the conversation to a full stop. I might have an extra long pause with a hard look to just put a point on it, and then I make an abrupt change with a pleasant tone about a different topic. It indicates that the previous discussion is closed, and I'm putting it behind me and intend to be pleasant going forward. This can be combined with any of the suggestions in the first few posts as punctuation to the comment.

whatsanenigma

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Re: Responding to a belittling comment without blowing it out of proportion
« Reply #44 on: December 04, 2013, 04:54:44 PM »
Yes, some people do not grasp sarcasm or nuances or anything other than literal in speech.  Typically, I cannot be particularly close with them because it is so exhausting for both of us!

I was friends with a few of these in college, but only because I was away from home and not really with "my people." I hung out with them because they were available as companions, but I never really felt we were ever really on the same page, humor-wise. It really got a little tiring to be given a blank, curious stare, a concerned look, or a comment, "I can't believe you're so worried about that" in response to some tongue-in-cheek comment of mine. Also, I don't think my sense of humor is particularly odd, because other people seem to get it. It was just that particular small group that seemed to only ever take a literal interpretation of everything. Which was why I never really felt a true connection with them and didn't keep in touch after we all went our separate ways after college.

I take the OP's comment as tongue-in-cheek, good-natured teasing. I'd want to say something like, 'Oh please, so you didn't get that I was joking, that's fine, but feel free to drop it any time."


I wonder if in situations like this it would help to clarify the joke, by saying something like "Oh, I was just using hyperbole and making a joke.  I don't really feel quite that strongly but I was just overstating how I really feel and trying to be funny"?

For some people, that might come across as overexplaining or patronizing, but if somebody really truly doesn't get jokes and keeps harping on you as though you really were serious, and otherwise is a nice person that you like and have a good relationship with, it might be just the right approach.