Ugh, condescending or patronizing people are some of the most annoying, frustrating, and ignorant people to deal with.
Condescending people think they’re better than everyone else. It’s very difficult to make them see that they’re not or reason with them, and they can make some seriously hurtful comments.
I’ve come across numerous condescending people in my life, and no matter how rationally I tried to speak to them about it – I’ve never been able to get them to see how they’re behaving.
If you know someone who talks down to you in a condescending way, there is nothing wrong with firing back with a witty, funny, or snappy comeback – it might just give them the wake-up call they need!
What Does It Mean to Be Condescending to Someone?
Being condescending is similar to being passive-aggressive in a lot of ways. It’s also not always completely obvious when someone is doing it, at least not deliberately.
But if someone is persistently condescending, you’ll pick up on it – and it will certainly grate on you.
If you look in the dictionary, the definition of condescending is:
showing or characterized by a patronizing or superior attitude toward others.
It’s basically acting in a way that shows a superior attitude over someone as a way of undermining or annoying them when there is no reason to do so – as if there ever is a reason!
Examples of this would be a parent speaking to their grown child as if they were still a toddler. Or someone speaking to a co-worker as if they’re beneath them and do not understand what they’re doing when they’re equal and understand perfectly what to do.
People within a group of friends often speak in a condescending way to one or more people as a way of belittling them, too. Often due to their own insecurities and trying to hide the fact that they feel inferior.
Whatever the reason, condescending remarks are never needed and can be quite hurtful.
If you know someone who has a habit of putting people down with condescending remarks, hopefully, the comebacks below will equip you with all the ammo you need to fire back and put them in their place!
Witty or Smart Comebacks for Condescending Remarks
- You are aware that being condescending makes you look like the inferior idiot, right?
- I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you don’t know that stupid that comment was.
- I hope being condescending makes you feel bigger inside because it makes you look smaller outside.
- You don’t see mentally stable people go around making comments like that, so why do you?
- It’s funny how you talk down to people yet everyone looks down on you.
- sure, cool story, I’m definitely listening.
- Do you always behave like a condescending idiot, or was that just a one-off?
- You may be having a bad day but it doesn’t mean you need to try and put it on other people.
- What does that mean?
- Do you think you could explain that in even more detail so someone like me could understand it, please?
- Wow, I’m far more qualified than you in every aspect, yet you feel the need to talk to me like that.
- I’m sorry you feel so insecure about your life but there’s really nothing I can do to help.
- Hold that thought, I’ll get back to you this side of the next century.
- I’m guessing there’s no point in me trying to explain to you how wrong you are.
- I’m going to have to ask you kindly to wait your turn, adults are speaking at the moment.
- Thanks for sharing your point of view, it was very insightful.
- My understanding is that condescending people don’t know that they’re being condescending, is that true?
Funny Comebacks to Condescending Remarks
Sometimes you don’t want to be harsh or risk offending the person being condescending, I get it.
If that is the case, you could try some of these more lighthearted responses and might just put a smile on their – or someone else’s – face while you make it clear you don’t appreciate their downward-looking attitude:
- I’d slap you, but that could be classed as animal abuse.
- I could give you a nasty look, but I see you already have one.
- Surprise me by saying something intelligent next time.
- I love how you think you’re being smart, it’s so cute.
- I have some breath mints if you want one.
- I heard you say something, but chose to ignore it.
- You’re making yourself look pretty silly right now.
- Is that insecurity talking?
- I’m just trying to figure out why I still tolerate you.
- I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure you’re dealing with some internal struggles.
What is the best way to respond to a condescending or patronizing person?
It can be incredibly hurtful and upsetting being on the end of condescending or patronizing remarks.
Most people get caught out not knowing what to do in the moment, and this can haunt you if you’re belittled or embarrassed in front of a group of people.
Being armed with a comeback or response is one thing, you also need to know how to act when you’re being targeted so you come out of the interaction looking and feeling great.
Here are some of the important things to keep in mind when someone is being condescending towards you:
As difficult as it may be, it’s incredibly important that you stay calm no matter what was said to you.
If you get angry, aggressive, or overly defensive, you’re giving the offender a reaction they wanted and validating in their mind whatever they said.
Choose Your Words
Most people get flustered in the face of hurtful comments, so don’t feel bad if you find yourself stuck for words.
When you do respond, however, it’s important you think before you speak – you’ll probably only get one chance.
Hopefully, you found one or more comeback lines from this article that you will be able to use next time you find yourself on the receiving end of a condescending remark.
Avoid Future Confrontations
No matter how good you feel about making a quick-witted remark back, you’re always better off avoiding a situation altogether.
One of the frustrating things about condescending people is that they often don’t know they’re doing it, so it’s almost impossible to change them.
If you know someone behaves like this, the best course of action is to do everything you can to avoid getting into a conversation with them altogether.
Image credits – Photo by HIVAN ARVIZU @soyhivan on Unsplash
Phil lives in England, UK, and has around 20 years experience as a professional life, career and executive coach. He started this blog to help others find and define their own self development journey. Blogging about a wide range of topics to help facilitate a better future.