20 Perfect Comebacks For Dealing With Condescending People

Photo: MDV Edwards / Shutterstock
woman talking to someone

Being talked down to is one of the most disrespectful things you can encounter.

People with condescending behavior can turn one quick conversation into an entire bad day. Whether it’s their tone of voice or belittling comments they have made, dealing with condescending people can be challenging.

RELATED: 15 Immediate Warning Signs You're Dealing With A Toxic Person

Sometimes deciding if a person is actually being condescending or if it’s all in your head is difficult. Most people would rather give the person the benefit of the doubt than jump to conclusions.

A couple of great tools you can use include the ability to recognize the signs of a condescending person, how to deal with their bad behavior, and good comebacks you can use to put them in their place.

7 Signs of a Condescending Person

1. They lack emotional intelligence.

Condescending people are sometimes unaware of how they make people feel.

In their mind, their condescending remarks are completely normal, and their lack of emotional intelligence keeps them from seeing any other point of view.

2. They have a superiority complex.

Dealing with a condescending person requires a lot of patience.

They feel superior to others and people don’t have the courage to stand up to them. They make others feel inferior but don’t care.

3. They do not choose their words carefully.

When interacting with other people, context is everything. They say things that are abrasive without apology.

Condescending people fail to read the room and have problems deciding what is appropriate to say.

4. They are know-it-alls.

People who condescend others think they are the smartest people in the room.

They interrupt you when you are speaking to correct things like your pronunciation or recollections. They assume they know more than you and should enlighten you.

5. They discount your feelings.

One of the most hurtful things condescending people do is tell you how to feel.

If you’re upset about something, they might tell you it’s not a big deal and tell you to move on. Condescending people have no desire to work through your feelings.

6. They can never get your name right.

If you find yourself in conversation with a person who makes no effort whatsoever to pronounce or spell your name right, they are acting condescending towards you.

Other ways they may show their lack of respect is by reducing you to gender specific nicknames like “sweetheart” or “bro.”

7. They are self-important.

Condescending people love to tout their connections and accomplishments.

They may try to one-up you when you talk about something you achieved. They feel that your wins are trivial and pale in comparison to their successes.

20 Perfect Comebacks & Insults to Condescending Remarks

1. Putting other people down is a clear sign of insecurity, you know.

2. Don't shorten my straw to make yours look longer.

3. Hurt people hurt people. Don't forget that.

4. It’s really hilarious how you talk down to people and yet everyone looks down on you.

5. Wow! You are really important... in your own head.

6. Are you aware of the way you speak to people?

7. Clearly, they skipped you when handing out emotional intelligence.

8. Reading the room is not one of your strong suits, is it?

9. I'd rather chew bricks than talk to you.

10. Be quiet. Adults are speaking right now.

11. Has anyone ever told you how condescending you are?

12. You should learn to treat people the way you want to be treated.

13. People who are really successful don't need to brag about it.

14. Here, have a breath mint. Your breath smells like crap from all the BS you're spewing.

15. I'm sorry you feel so insecure about your own life. You should work on that.

16. Are you being mean on purpose?

17. I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you didn't know how offensive that comment is.

18. Cool story, bro. I'm definitely not listening.

19. You’re making yourself look pretty insecure right now.

20. Please bless us with your insight, oh Great One!

RELATED: 'Bad' Personality Traits Explained — And 12 That Are Actually 'Good'

15 Ways to Deal With a Condescending Person

1. Stay calm.

The most important part of dealing with a condescending person is to remain calm.

Resolving the situation is dependent on your response to their transgressions. Watch your body language and be aware of your tone.

2. Honesty is the best policy.

Being honest is a good idea when confronting a condescending person.

If someone steps on your toes, tell them. Be specific about how they made you feel and clear that it is unacceptable.

3. Don’t get defensive.

It’s easy to get defensive when you are dealing with difficult people. Condescending people are looking to confirm their beliefs about you and being defensive can play into their wishes.

Remember, their words have no power over you.

4. Tell them to make like Michael Jackson and 'beat it.'

If someone is constantly talking down to you and making you feel worthless, why on earth would you want them around?

You are not obligated to be around anyone who doesn’t respect you. Hand them their pink slip and move on.

5. Block their attempts at blackmailing you.

People who are condescending use "emotional blackmail" to make others bow to their wishes.

They may be scared of losing you so make you feel small, so you think they are your only option. Let them know that their continued behavior will not be tolerated.

6. Paste a sarcastic smile on your face and nod.

What better way to illustrate how someone is making you feel than to mirror their actions back to them?

If someone is being condescending, smile sarcastically and nod. If you really want to have some fun, throw in a few comments like “thank you, your highness!”

7. Worry about yourself.

If people are regularly condescending towards you, there may be a reason.

Do a self-assessment to make sure you don’t have the word “victim” tattooed across your forehead. If you do, you should consider setting some boundaries and teaching people how to treat you.

8. Get some help.

If you are having trouble establishing those all-important boundaries with the bad actors in your life, you should seek professional help. A licensed therapist can help to uncover the issues causing you to allow people to devalue you and help you put a stop to it.

9. Don’t waste your breath.

Some people simply aren’t worth the time and emotional effort necessary to work through your issues with them. If the person talking down to you is a non-factor in your life, it might be best to walk away and cease all contact.

10. Use their holier-than-thou attitude to your advantage.

If someone is always downplaying your ideas and contributions, and believes they know more than you, make them prove it. They say they are a subject matter expert, so naturally, they are the best person to do the job. So let them.

11. Burst their bubble.

Nothing embarrasses an egocentric person more than the realization that they are the only person that thinks highly of themselves. Drop an insulting nugget here and there to let them know that you and other people don’t find them as amazing as they find themselves.

12. Avoid them — and make sure they know you’re doing it.

Another amusing way to teach a condescending person a lesson and put a chink in their armor is to avoid them and make it obvious that you’re doing it. If you’re walking toward each other, make eye contact then abruptly turn away and take another route.

13. Give them the intervention they deserve.

If the consensus is that a certain person is hell to be around, stage an intervention. The best way to bring someone’s lofty sense of self-importance down to earth is to call out the behavior.

Be respectful and don’t gang up, but make it clear they are problematic.

14. Lose it on them.

Now, this isn’t the best way to handle a condescending person, but it will definitely spur some kind of action.

We are all human and may have an outburst from time to time. If your concerns have gone unheard, maybe you should take a more aggressive approach.

15. Report them.

Dealing with condescending people at work is an entirely different matter. You have the right to be respected in the workplace.

If a colleague or a superior is talking down to you, report them to Human Resources so the pattern of behavior can be documented and addressed.

RELATED: If He Does These 5 Things, He's Not Chivalrous — He's Manipulative

NyRee Ausler is a writer from Seattle, Washington and author of seven books. She covers lifestyle and entertainment and news, as well as navigating the workplace and social issues.