What is Condescension? Some Instances Of Condescending Behavior


What is Condescension?

As per the Oxford dictionary, condescension refers to an attitude of patronizing superiority; disdain. All of us at one point in our lives have experienced that deplorable kind which takes immense pleasure in talking down to others. A mere conversation with such people turns into a combat zone in which one person is trying to exert her/his supremacy by belittling the other person. It's like making a protagonist feel like a side character in her/his own story! Nobody relishes such company as it evokes the feelings of negativity, discomfort, and toxicity in others.
It tends to push people away as no one likes their self-esteem being jabbed at. Condescending comments can be extremely rude and can have long lasting impacts on others. In fact, one of the ways in which condescension works is by taking the disguise of sarcasm. Sarcasm is considered rather a cool word today, possession of which is a proof of it.
However, one should draw a line between condescending and sarcastic comments. Rudeness is not witty.
Condescending comments tend to have a didactic quality to it. People having such an attitude can be said to have a 'teaching syndrome' where they are always trying to establish that they know more and others should simply learn from it.

Some Instances Of Condescending Behaviour

We are filled up with people around us who deliberately make nasty and condescending remarks to make other people feel small. It's a repulsive way of acting. Such behavior and comments arise from feelings of superiority. And this feeling of superiority is often a byproduct of inherent sexism, elitism, classism, and racism. There are so many people who think they are superior to you owing to their experience, class or gender.

Here are some condescending things that people say:-

"When you go into the real world"
One derogatory thing you can tell an individual is that their perception of reality is unrealistic and it's not how things work and they are extremely naive.
"You're too young to be in love"
The most infuriating thing you can say to a teenager is that it's not love that they're are experiencing but infatuation. That their hormones are acting up and they are just not capable for intense emotions.
"You have good driving skills for a woman"
Yet another sexist way of saying that woman can't drive and their brains are not meant for mechanical skills such as driving that they're better off doing domestic jobs!
"You have a nice temperament for a Latina"
This one derives from inherent racism and categories we have made to a cage in people from other races. Women from Latin origin are stereotyped to be extremely sassy and hot-headed.
"You can't do this? But this is too easy!"
Another example of belittling someone because of their inability to do a certain task or solve a problem. Instead of taking a moment to help others, sadly people choose to mock others.

Why Is Condescension Bad?

Lao Tzu, founder of Taoism and an ancient Chinese philosopher condemned condescension as a vice. In his book Tao Te Ching, he says, "He who stands on tiptoes is not steady. He who strides cannot maintain the pace. He who makes a show is not enlightened. He who is self-righteous is not respected. He who boasts achieves nothing. He who brags will not endure. These are extra food and unnecessary luggage. They do not bring happiness. Therefore followers of the Tao avoid them."
People exhibiting patronizing attitudes can said to be strayed from the self. They are insecure people trying to feel better about their situations by profiting from the insecurities of others. They are scared of losing power to others. Chances are that such people don't respond well to criticism. Their arrogant behavior and compulsive need to correct others end up hampering their interactions with others. Other people start viewing them as malicious and hateful and begin to avoid them. In short, It's just not a pretty trait to have.

What To Do About It?

However, there could be times that one unintentionally comes across as condescending. Therefore, one should think before speaking and also check the tone in which one is speaking.
In order to not to be condescending, one should start by being a better listener and letting others speak. One should also monitor their body language and talk at a normal pace as to not appear impatient. There should be an equal share of power in a conversation. Also, if you are humble then chances are that people will find it easy to connect with you and will feel comfortable around you.
One should remember that there's a fine line of difference between giving someone advice and 'unsolicited' advice. The latter can make you sound condescending. Therefore, no matter how much one is tempted to contribute to others in terms of advice one should take a step back and just listen and respect what others has to say.
It is important not to be judgemental and fix everyone in categories that comes naturally to the human mind. An open and a positive mind is a step forward in eliminating condescension. One should respect people regardless of their sex, ethnicity, class, and color. Instead of putting others down, one should aim at empowering others. Encourage others and help them overcome their obstacles. Such a positive mindset paves way for growth and love.