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How to Deal With Someone Who Is Patronizing You

by C. Giles

When someone is treating you in a patronizing or condescending way, it's natural to feel annoyed or angry, and want to lash out at that person. This may provide some relief in the short term, but it isn't a good long-term solution, and may lead to further conflict.

Stay calm when confronting the person who is patronizing you. This will make it more likely that he will listen to you, says the University of Maryland Health Center's article "Effective Communication." If emotions are running high, take a few minutes to relax beforehand, suggests private coach Preston Ni in the article, "Ten Keys to Handling Unreasonable & Difficult People," for Psychology Today. Take a deep breath and slowly count to 10.

Highlight the patronizing behavior using specific examples and "I" statements to explain how you feel, advises the article "A Game Plan for Effective Communication," from the TwoOfUs.org website. For example, you might say something like, "I feel embarrassed when you tease me about my lack of college education in front of my friends." This is an effective way to communicate the problem, without placing blame on the other person, which could lead to her becoming defensive. Ask for the patronizing behavior to stop.

Ask the patronizing person what he means when he makes a patronizing comment. According to Oxford Dictionaries, patronizing behavior is often masked as kindness. For example, a patronizing person in the workplace might call you "honey" or "sweetheart," implying that you are not their intellectual or professional equal. In this instance, you might say something like, "I'm curious to know why you call me 'honey.'" A direct confrontation will make him stop and think about what he has said, and may force him to rethink the way he speaks to you.

Set clear personal boundaries with the other person. When you make it clear what you will and will not put up with, you demand respect, says Jane Collingwood in her article, "The Importance of Personal Boundaries," for Psych Central. Let the other person know what will happen if she continues to treat you in a patronizing manner. For example, you might say something like, "If you continue to tease me about my upbringing, we won't be able to spend time together." You must be prepared to back this up with action, warns Collingwood, or the patronizing person won't take your threats seriously.

About the Author

C. Giles is a writer with an MA (Hons) in English literature and a post-graduate diploma in law. Her work has been published in several publications, both online and offline, including "The Herald," "The Big Issue" and "Daily Record."

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