Belittling, Condescending and Patronizing


Belittling, Condescending and Patronizing - This kind of speech is a passive-aggressive approach to giving someone a verbal put-down while maintaining a facade of reasonableness or friendliness.

Masked Nastiness

Many people with Personality Disorders suffer from low self-esteem and look for ways to feel better. One way some of them try to do that is by putting others down using Belittling, Condescending and Patronizing speech.

This is a form of passive-aggressive attack - a put-down typically veiled in fake friendliness, advice, or words of “wisdom”. The veiled message behind this kind of attack is, “I am better than you”. By masking their purpose in this way, the perpetrator often hopes to deliver the attack while minimizing the risk of retaliation or being held accountable for their behavior.

Examples of Belittling

  • "Oh my dear you are looking so much better today."
  • "This is far too complicated for you to understand. '
  • "We're all watching your progress and hoping the best for you."
  • "It's nice that you have found a friend."
  • "How is your therapy progressing?"
  • "Aren't we pretty today?'

What it feels like:

Nobody likes to be belittled or talked down to. Being on the receiving end of belittling speech is frustrating, annoying and humiliating.

Learning to Cope with Belittling:

The best approach to dealing with belittling, condescending and patronizing speech is to remove yourself from the source of it. You can't control another person's thoughts or speech, so it's best to focus on the one thing you can control - that's you.

What NOT to do:

  • Don't stay in the same room with a person who uses verbal put-downs.
  • Don't believe the lie that they are better than you.
  • Don't take the bait and enter into an argument about what has been said.

What TO do:

  •  Exit the conversation.
  • Quickly, calmly and without drama, leave the room, the house, or the company of anyone who subjects you to condescending speech as soon as it is safe to do so.
  • If appropriate, offer to take up the conversation again when the belittling speech is stopped.
  • Get support and discuss your concerns with someone who cares about you and who understands Personality Disorders.