Nobody likes hanging out with a condescending person. They are universally disliked, and their "advice" is hardly ever appreciated. And yet, even though you know better, you might sometimes find yourself being the one who is condescending. Yes, even if you are usually super nice. And yes, even if you don't mean any harm.
Because, even if you're the sweetest person in the world, it's still possible to let your accidental superiority complex shine on. It makes sense why this might happen, too. After years of being a kid, you are finally a true, bonafide grownup in control of your own destiny. The moment you see some young thing strugglin' along (like you once did), it can be really difficult to keep your judge-y advice to yourself.
This can happen in all sorts of instances — in your relationship, your career, while with friends. But let's look at your career, for a second. It's taken you forever to work your way up from total underling, to someone with a bit of responsibility. So how can you possibly not come off as slightly condescending when helping the new girl learn the ropes?
That's just the thing. You probably don't even realize you are being condescending. Helpful, yes. Accommodating, sure. But condescending? Couldn't be. And yet it happens. So take a look at some of these ways you're accidentally being condescending (whoops), as well as how to fix it.
1. When You Assume You Know Everything
There's absolutely nothing wrong with being confident in your knowledge. But unless you are some kind of scholar who has spent fifty years studying a subject, then it's doubtful you actually do know everything. Nobody likes a know-it-all, so if you think you're coming off this way, then try to be more open to other people's input, knowledge, and advice. You may just learn something new, after all.
2. When You Aren't Polite To Salespeople
Sometimes you want to run into a store, grab what you need, and GTFO. I get it. But this can lead to some rude (and condescending) encounters. Think of the times you've rushed a salesperson along, or talked down to a busy cashier. I'm sure you didn't mean to, but it still happened. Remember, it's not the salespeople's fault that you're running late, or in a hurry. So put yourself in their shoes, and always be polite.
3. Those Times You Ignore A New Coworker
Yes, you have been in your job for forever. But having seniority doesn't mean you have to turn your nose up at new employees. "If no one else has, give them a tour of the workspace and introduce them to key people they may need to work with in each department," suggested Heather Yamada-Hosely on Lifehacker.com. "Help them out with any tips you might have, like when the lunch area is most crowded or if certain people prefer to be addressed by a certain name." It'll make them feel welcome, and you far less imposing.
4. Whilst Commenting On Someone's Outfit
Unless you are dishing out a compliment, it's not really your place to pass judgement on what someone else is wearing. After all, their clothes can be a direct reflection of their personality, their mood, or their money situation. So if you don't have anything nice to say, simply don't say anything at all. Or, you can offer up a compliment that has nothing to do with their outward appearance, according to Lindsay Holmes on HuffingtonPost.com. Those are way better compliments, anyway.
5. When You "Can't Relate" To Friend's Problem
If a friend comes to you with a heart-wrenching issue, the last thing you want to say is, "Well, that's never happened to me, but..." I mean, really? Have you never been sad, or angry, or rejected? If not, use your dang imagination, and assist your friend in feeling a little less alone.
6. The Times You Give Unsolicited Relationship Advice
I'm sure you mean well when dishing out the relationship advice. But it can quickly get out of hand, not to mention super hurtful. So get permission before doling it out. "If you feel the need to offer unsolicited advice, ask them, 'Do you want some ideas to improve the situation?' This way they have the option to say no, and they’ll likely give you more attention when they’ve agreed to take your help," said Maelina Frattaroli on TinyBuddha.com.
7. When You Can't Take Someone's Advice
There's definitely a holier-than-thou vibe to people who can't take advice. It's usually not true, so don't be afraid of hearing someone out, especially if that person loves you and means well. Their advice may be just what you need.
8. When You Speak Of Others In The Third Person
Who knows why people do it, but every now and again someone will refer to someone in the group in the third person — as if he or she isn't standing right there. Don't let this be you.
9. Whenever You Call Someone "Honey"
I personally think it's absolutely adorable when, say, a sweet older lady calls me "hun." But not everyone likes it, so be careful when dishing out the pet names. It can come off as incredibly patronizing, according to Marya Smith on Prevention. So best keep them to yourself.
10. The Times You Turn Someone Into A Joke
Yes, it's tempting to throw out zingers at other people's expense, especially if you're hanging out with close friends. However, if you don't know for sure that people's feelings won't get hurt, it's best to resist your comedic urges, and save everyone the potential hurt.
11. When You Don't Let Others Speak
Again, hardly anyone does this type of thing on purpose. But think back to the times when someone else was talking (say, in a work meeting), and you talked over them. It may have come off as super go-getter of you, but in reality you deemed your voice to be more important than theirs. And that's not OK. Going forward, make it a point to give everyone the floor, and allow everyone to be heard. You'll be much better liked for it.
And remember, there's nothing wrong with being confident, or making a joke. The only time it's a problem is when other people's feelings are being blatantly ignored. If you find yourself walking around with a condescending air, reign it all in, and remember to give others the respect they deserve.
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