The world is full of nice, pleasant, and interesting people, but every once in a while you might run into some who seem to constantly try to put you down.
Sometimes it can even be your family members, or close friends, which makes such encounters even worse.
We know life is not always rainbows and butterflies. We will encounter people who try to put us down with derogatory gestures, ironic comments, constant criticism, name-calling, disapproval, and several other microaggressions aimed at belittling, discouraging, and disempowering us.
Sometimes it is subtle, other times it is overt. In both cases it can be frustrating.
But, as you can guess, getting frustrated and agitated is not the way to deal with these sorts of people. Since these people are derisive or scornful, any unpolished response or reaction would only serve to fuel (or maybe even prove) their mockery, and disrespect...
Don’t give them that chance.
To deal with this type of person, you first need to understand what motivates them. By doing so, you steal back your power from them.
The truth is that the act of putting people down may range from conscious attempts to unconscious mistakes...we would explore these reasons starting from the conscious to the unconscious.
Jealous people do petty things. They make sly statements in order to make your achievements seem less grand or your happiness less delightful. You can tell they are jealous by the position they take. If they don’t have what you have, yet seem to mock it, it is only a reflection of their jealousy.
Some folks just want all the attention in the room, and in the world at large.
They don’t like feeling insignificant or small. If they can’t succeed in drawing attention to themselves by their actions, they start trying to diminish the attention others are having in order to shine brighter. You can tell they are obsessed with being noticed.
These sorts of people can’t stand being under anyone.
They may not be able to always be at the top and keep trying to make it seem as though they are. This is usually a bad experience for anyone within their level. They talk down on you to have a sense of power or control, even if they truly don’t, and may never.
Some people have a tough life and have grown resentful over the years, just lash out at whoever is unlucky to be around them during their periodic bouts of unwanted behavior. These are the types that may later apologize, but you don’t have to take their negativity. You are not a punching bag.
After years of practice, it has become second nature to this type. Putting people down is their way of life. These people are past redemption.
This set of individuals doesn’t like changing their minds.
When an idea, notion, or perception – no matter how wrong, or ill-informed – gets into their brains, it gets stuck. They may even conclude based on gossip and judge you wrongly, and without remorse, or willingness to hear your part of the story.
These people simply don't know how to connect with others. Their words come out wrong too often. They may not really mean any harm at all times, but they can hurt you nonetheless.
This can be anyone – it’s just a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Now that you know better, below are some of the ways you can employ to deal with those who would put you down.
Sound familiar? Read this next! 21 Signs You're Dealing With a Toxic Friend
This is probably the worst response. Not just because it can cause the truly unpleasant people to retaliate with more unpleasantries, it can actually hurt those who didn’t intend it that way. Then you unwittingly become the one who puts people down.
Not getting angry is already 50% victory, all that is left is to choose the next course of action.
Really, if you can properly understand what motivates them, you can see how pathetic the whole drama is. You can even flip the switch by saying kind words to them and winning a friend.
If you feel infuriated by the manner and timing of the whole thing, then allow for some more time to pass. Let it all wash away. Take a deep breath, and allow yourself to see the bigger picture and to see that their words have little to do with you.
If they criticized you or your works harshly, be the bigger person by acknowledging their views.
Were they actually right? Acknowledge it, learn from it, and discard the rudeness. If they were wrong, ignore their attempts to put you down. You can go an extra mile by asking them to explain what they mean by what they said.
This would give you deeper insight (if there was really any), or give you the opportunity to call them out (if there was none).
If you have an expert sense of humor, you can turn the tables by laughing at their attempt to put you down. You just have to be careful not to cross the line and poke the bear, causing more issues.
It is not your responsibility to teach grownups manners. Make peace with that and move on.
You don't have to get into a big thing about it. If someone says something insulting, you can simply say, "No, I disagree," and change the subject.
You can keep the conversation going if you want, or walk away after. You don't have to be rude about it, but you also don't have to accept or agree with them say negative things to you to keep things nice.
Just be direct and honest. There is absolutely nothing wrong with simply saying, "I don't think that's fair, and it feels like an insult." A lot of people who put others down don't expect to be called out on it. You don't have to be rude. But you are 100% allowed to draw your boundaries and call it as you see it.
Best case, it could start an open dialogue about why they said what they said and you can find common ground going forward. Worst case, they react poorly and tell you exactly who they are. Either way, you don't have to feel like you should be silent.
Speaking up for yourself is never out of style!
In the iconic words of RuPaul...
Next time someone tries to put you down, remember that confidence is quiet but insecurity is loud. You should always have it at the back of your mind that what people say, and how they behave is only a reflection of who they are and not who you are.