10 behaviors that people consider condescending and that you should avoid

From saying 'boss' to someone to saying that you 'really' like an idea.

13 min read

The opinions expressed by employees are personal.

10 behaviors that people consider condescending and that you should avoid
10 behaviors that people consider condescending and that you should avoid

We all know how to be with someone who doesn't make you feel good about yourself. There are many types of people that make you feel uncomfortable: those who complain about everything, the envious, the negatives that suck your energy, the sarcastic with a bad temper, almost anyone who wears dark neon glasses; but if you feel bad about yourself, chances are that this person has been condescending. People behave condescendingly for several reasons, but it almost always comes down to insecurity and arrogance. Yes, you can definitely be arrogant and insecure at the same time.

Here we point out some behaviors that people do not usually receive well. It is also important to remember that studies suggest that between 75 and 90 percent of the communication is nonverbal. So when someone feels that another is being condescending, it has a lot to do with the way they say things. However, if you have been told that you tend to be condescending, here are some behaviors that you must observe to avoid.

1. Explain things that people already know

We have all been in a conversation that runs smoothly, when suddenly you find yourself cornered without knowing how, listening to someone explain something you already know. He is talking to you with his eyes wide open, offering you every point as if it were a gift “and so, after almost 30 years in jail, he won the Novel Peace Prize”, and you barely have the heart to derail his monologue and say ” Emmm yes, be perfect who Nelson Mandela is. ”

Finding yourself in this situation is annoying because the other person, for whatever reason, has assumed that you do not have the same knowledge that he or she has. Most likely, they have not even begun to assess whether or not you know what they are explaining, they only know they know it , and that is reason enough to explain it. This behavior is usually called ” mansplaining “, but there are a few women who also fall for this. The important thing is to remember that a respectful conversation between two people involves reading the other. If you are not sure that they are following what you say, you can always ask “Does it sound familiar to you?” Or “Have you heard of this?” Most of the time, the safest way to handle this is by giving the other the benefit of the doubt.

2. Tell a person that “always” or “never” does something

Nobody likes to be cornered. When you make generalizations about someone else's behavior, that is the fastest way to make him feel judged and misunderstood. Whether you're having a casual conversation or trying to give someone feedback, that person is more likely to close and become defensive when you use words like “always” or “never” to talk about what he does.

For example, when you tell someone “ You are always late” or “ You never clean the bathroom,” you make them feel that you are making an absolute statement about what they are and will no doubt search your brain for information and evidence that contradicts you. However, if you said “I have noticed that you have been late lately” or “You have not been cleaning the bathroom for a long time,” the person will probably continue to be defensive but they will not feel fully judged.

And most importantly, if your judgments are not black and white, others will perceive you as a more reasonable, empathetic and nonjudgmental person, qualities that make others more receptive to your feedback.

3. Interrupt to correct someone else's pronunciation

If someone is saying something, you should definitely not interrupt it to correct its pronunciation. There is no faster way to break someone's impulse or to break their confidence than to interrupt to say “Um, it is actually said 'esssspreso' no 'expresso'”. Not only will this embarrass the person who is speaking, but everyone who is listening will think that you are a smartie who makes others feel uncomfortable by putting them under the reflectors and displaying them.

If the conversation is casual, and someone mispronounces a name or word, it is most likely not worth correcting. You are not going to save anyone's life with this. But if you feel that the mistake was so noticeable that you cannot allow that person to go through life as if he were walking with a spinach in his tooth (such as pronouncing a client's name wrong), it is best to wait until he has finished speaking and no longer be the center of attention. Then, you can discreetly say “Do you pronounce it Lanvin? I always thought that Lanvan was said. French is weird. ” Any person who has a hint of self-awareness will understand what you wanted to say and look for the correct way to pronounce it, and if it does not, then it is not worth it to correct it.

4. Say “calm down”

Especially for women, being told to “calm down” is particularly condescending. Other adjacent and equally annoying phrases are “Relax” and “Take it easy.” No matter who you are talking to, when you say “calm down” you are suggesting that your general emotion, concern or response to something is excessive or invalid. People have the right to feel what they want, and to react as they can.

It happens suddenly to men, but it happens to women all the time. Most have run into a man who tells them to “relax” because he perceives her reaction as emotionally inappropriate, when she usually doesn't feel that she is reacting emotionally. Research has shown time and again that men tend to perceive more “stridency” and emotion in women's voices. A Fortune study found that women are 17 times more likely to be described as unpleasant. When someone tells a woman to “calm down” or “relax,” she will feel that person tells her that she is being “exaggerated” or “dramatic.” This reduces your experience and makes your response tend to be petty.

5. Say that you “really” liked an idea

This is a kinder way of saying “Wow! You did something smart and I didn't think you could do it. ” Many of us have received an email from our boss in which we are informed of everything we did wrong and in the end there is a “but I really liked this”. This type of compliment can be worse than not receiving praise. If you offer a solution to a problem at a meeting and someone says “Hey, this is a very good idea” and says it with surprise for your contribution, they make you feel they didn't expect anything smart from you. If you “really” like something, just say you like it and that's it.

6. Hand out flattery sandwiches

Many bosses swear that this feedback method serves: start with a compliment, then make a criticism, and end with another compliment. It is perceived as a way to dampen criticism. And it is true that a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine to slip better … sometimes. But at this point the formula is distinguished by leagues, and flattery may feel forced. Many people distinguish the praise inside the sandwich and think: tell me straight .

You don't have to give a compliment to criticize. You should definitely offer reaffirmation when it is needed, but a compliment feels a thousand times better when it is not followed by a “but.” Instead of offering flattery sandwiches, you can try another method like the one Pixar developed. Leadership expert David Berkus writes that the technique emerges from the tradition of comic improvisation, in which the rule is never to say “no” but “Yes, and …” In Pixar, putting this into practice means that when you criticize, You do it directly, but it is always followed by a constructive suggestion on how to solve the problem.

7. Degrading nicknames like “boss” or “heart”

In general, family and generic nicknames, especially with people with whom you interact professionally, are not a good idea. This is particularly important for people in positions of power. While a male boss might think that calling his subordinate “boss” is a way of being kind, or of rubbing shoulders with small people, this tends to seem condescending. A female boss may think she is maternal or accessible if she says “heart” to her employees, but this can cause a false sense of familiarity that makes it difficult for employees to speak honestly. Moreover, these nicknames are almost always exclusive: a boss will rarely say “boss” to one of his employees (and hopefully, in 2020 he already knows that he should not say 'heart' to anyone but his wife). So those nicknames are exclusive and extremely condescending.

When it comes to interacting with people who are offering you a service (be it a security guard in your building, a waiter in a restaurant, the lady who does the cleaning in your house or a taxi driver), nicknames are particularly risky. Calling another man “boss” or “boss” is a kind of false submission posture. In 2019, in a survey conducted by Men's Health, 43 percent of respondents said that when another man calls them “Boss,” they think they are being patronizing. It is probably not worth facing those odds. Fortunately, the alternative to nicknames is not too difficult to implement and always works. You can learn the real names of people.

8. Patting on the shoulder

This may seem obvious, but it happens more often than you think. In general, touching people is not a good idea, unless they are your friends or family. It is true that in the repertoire of methods to touch people, “patting” acquaintances is a better option than “caressing”, “hitting” or “pinching”, and there are certain scenarios in which to pat someone on the back or shoulder is completely acceptable. But doing it in the head is never right. If you hit someone in the head, even if it is as light as possible, that person will invariably have to look at you (confused, and probably trying to take your hand away), and then you will be forced to “look down.” So, if someone's head is at your fingertips (because it is much shorter than you, or is sitting in a wheelchair or in an office chair) and you feel the need to touch it, simply withdraw from the situation .

9. Get to drop names

This is an old and transparent method of communicating superiority. Whether you're talking about Jack Dorsey being in your yoga retreat last weekend, or that you have Chrissy Teigen's husband's brother on your phone, they will always perceive you as a person who believes that famous people are more important . It's okay to be excited to run into a celebrity or an authority figure. The problem is when you spend releasing names and then acting as if it were not much, which suggests that you think these people are important enough to mention, but also that you consider yourself one of their acquaintances. The implicit message for the person you are talking to is: 'I know important people, therefore, I am important.' And most people consider this behavior condescending … and a bit pathetic.

10. Tell someone “Come on, you know better than that”

This type of comment can be used in all kinds of situations, but it is almost always experienced as condescending. It's the kind of thing a tired dad could say to his son, so when an adult tells another, it sounds like he was scolding him. Let's say you're having a discussion about politics and someone tells you: “Come on, you know better than that”; Most likely, you feel they are belittling your perspective, considering it silly or childish. Even if you are doing something objectively bad (say, like smoking a cigar) and someone says “Come on, you know better than that” is such a parental reprimand that you will probably fall into the teen mode of “don't tell me what to do” and to annoy , you'll end up smoking even more. If you disagree with someone's opinion, you can say it directly. If you disagree with their life choices, it is best not to get in and let everyone choose what they do with their life.

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