According to Webster's Dictionary, contempt implies a lack of respect and a tendency toward "willful disobedience." Signs of contempt can be subtle at times, especially during the early stages. It also is a serious warning sign of a failing social relationship, such as marriage or friendship. Contempt is not restricted by age, since children can often show it toward their parents. Identifying these subtle, early signs can help you solve any underlying problems before they escalate.
Relationships and Marriage
A typical sign of contempt is feeling disgusted with your partner, or it can be the other way around. The same applies for friendships. During discussions or arguments, the other party may indicate hostility by mocking you, expressing sarcasm, calling you names or making inappropriate jokes at your expense. Body language also is an indicator. For example, if your partner rolls his eyes at you, it is a subtle sign that he does not take you seriously, which indicates disgust.
Contempt for Children
In families, early, subtle signs of contempt can come from parents just as easily as children. In fact, the two are often related. Parents with contempt for a child may insult her character or appearance, calling them "fat," "lazy," "ugly" or "worthless." Telling a child that they are useless or will never succeed in life also is a sign of contempt. Later, parents may directly tell the child that they completely despise her.
Contempt for Parents
Whether their parents are contemptuous or not, children showing contempt is a common occurrence. Young people, especially during their turbulent teenage years, often disobey and disrespect authority, which is a textbook indicator of contempt. Children who receive contempt from their parents may even become worse, harboring hostile and resentful feelings toward their caregivers. Their contempt may not necessarily be external. Many children in a shameful environment secretly despise themselves in a action known as internalizing contempt. People with internal contempt tend to feel guilty or ashamed of themselves when it is not warranted.
Contempt in the Workplace
Early signs of contempt are not limited to relatives, partners or friends. Workplaces can foster a generally contemptuous environment as well. Absenteeism is a sign of workplace contempt because it shows that the employees to not value or respect their employer enough to show up for work. Constant complaints also indicate contempt since it shows that some employees think very little of the workplace or their peers. This complaining also can be coupled with resentment and judgment of others. Employees also may have an "us versus them" attitude, which essentially indicates a type of war between workers and management. High turnover also may indicate contempt if the employees hate their managers enough to give up their jobs. These subtle signs can be seen or heard anywhere in the workplace and they must be addressed quickly. Luckily, with proper observation, communication and the right leadership, these issues can be resolved.
Alex Saez is a writer who draws much of his information from his professional and academic experience. Saez holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from Queen's University and an advanced diploma in business administration, with a focus on human resources, from St. Lawrence College in Kingston, Ontario.
Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images