Condescension in the Ranks: How to Handle Snide Remarks at Work
One of the biggest characteristics a workplace must have is harmony among the workers so that it can be a healthy and productive work environment.
Unfortunately, sometimes some colleagues know to throw a remark or two on your way for various reasons.
Condescending work colleagues who are persistent in their snide remarks are the basic example of harmful work behavior.
There is a big difference between a witty comment that is occasionally brought up in order to lighten up the atmosphere and consistently harmful comments that get you off your balance.
Being a target of a snide remark is nothing new, it has, actually, become a mundane and everyday experience.
Have in mind that throwing a couple of snide remarks among friends is a normal thing, however, if you are not well acquainted with the colleague or colleagues at work that constantly annoy you with their remarks, then it might be a problem.
In further writing of the text, you will learn what are some of the ways you can use that can help you in handling snide remarks, how you can show yourself as an emotionally strong person so that people avoid throwing snarky remarks at you, etc.
By the end of the article, you will be able to read a brief psychological insight into why people use snide remarks and what do they want to achieve by using them at their workplaces.
GIVE THE COLLEAGUE THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT
This is the first logical step that one takes when a snide remark is made about them.
This applies if the colleague in question is throwing a snide remark at you for the first time.
Just give that colleague the benefit of the doubt. They might have been nervous and it might have slipped up accidentally.
Using sarcastic comments and similar snide remarks is a common way of showing that the person is just trying to be friends with you.
It does not mean that they are doing it on purpose. It is the same as if someone you smile at does not return the smile, and you automatically assume that they are rude.
Before doing anything always consider the intention of the comment, because maybe the comment was not of mean nature but a sign of a friendly teasing nature.
You should try this way in order to avoid escalation of the situation. In other words, you could make an elephant out of a fly and further decrease the quality of the working atmosphere in your office, if it was just a witty, one-time remark.
AVOID THE COLLEAGUE
Avoiding the colleague is a useful step but it is not one that is always plausible. If the snide remarks really get under your skin, you can always try to avoid the colleague.
The problem arises if that colleague is an important person that crosses paths with you daily.
This step would not help you in the long run because it will give confirmation to the colleague that the snide remarks get to you and that you will only run if met with snide remarks.
Even though avoiding the colleague could sound like the only option in the heat of the moment, the only situation where avoiding the colleague can work is if you are employed somewhere where you do not plan on staying for some extended period.
In addition, if your work results would not be affected by your choice to avoid the colleague whose snide remarks are bothering you, then it can also be a good idea to avoid them.
If you plan on sticking longer on that job position, then it might be a good idea to consider some other ways of handling snide remarks.
Even though it is not a good way to handle a colleague who is bothering you with their remarks, it is still a possible way that can be considered.
COMPLETELY IGNORE THE COLLEAGUE
This one is a bit similar to the previous entry but it has a major difference.
If a colleague’s remarks are really getting under your skin, you can try and completely ignore them.
The ramifications are similar to the previous entry: it might affect the working atmosphere and it might affect the work projects that you two share if you do share some at all.
One of the major differences is that you actually confront the colleague that is bothering you, in a way.
If the colleague sees that you are completely ignoring, not only their snide remarks but also their legitimate questions, they might suspect something is wrong between the two of you and issue a conversation to see what is going on.
After talking, you can start with a clean slate.
The main idea with this entry is to show the colleague that is bothering you that you do not like the snide comments they are throwing at you and, at the same time, show them that you can give minimal to no attention to them as a form of retaliation.
It might be seen as a childish move, but so are the constant remarks that they are directing to you.
ANALYZE THE SITUATION AND THE REMARK DIRECTED AT YOU
This entry is one of the interesting ones, as it involves evaluating oneself.
First things first, the analysis of the situation means that you should ask yourself in what situation were the two of you when the remark was tossed at you.
If it was a situation closely linked with a particular work project or a characteristic that you have, for example, chewing loudly while at the break room, then it was a slight critique of you disguised as a remark.
The remark itself would serve as a direct explanation of that characteristic and why it must be changed.
This one is one of the deeper and philosophical entries in this article because it basically tells you to look beyond the snide comment and find the inner core and meaning of the comment in order to help you.
Of course, not every snide remark will be a call to better yourself. You can always try and seek the deeper meaning behind the remark.
This entry cannot be seen as a way to stop the snide remarks made by the colleague, but as a way to employ your brain to not look at them as a shallow way to make a quick laugh, but as a critique to improve over that characteristic that has been ridiculed through self-improvement, which is one of the most important things that one could do.
You know that old phrase that says “there is a grain of truth in every joke”? Well ask yourself if the snide remarks you’re faced with holds that grain of truth or more.
This is an interesting entry that you can use because it actually can help you analyze yourself and help you think more about your strengths and weaknesses rather than the snide remark that might have hurt your feelings.
There are no negative aspects in the workplace, except that the colleague might continue messing with you with the snide remarks, however, you might better yourself so much that, in the end, the colleague will run out of material.
The point of the analysis is to critically assess what you’re facing. Critically means you’ll try to be objective and neutral as you can and that means that you’ll clear all vanity out of the way.
That in itself is helpful.
DO NOT SHOW THAT IT GETS TO YOU
This one is indisputably the hardest entry on this list to achieve.
There is a certain amount of negativity and nuisance a person can take before they burst.
It is important to know that the colleagues or people who regularly toss around snide remarks aimed at you have the goal of seeing you annoyed.
Possessing that knowledge, you can turn the stunt on its head by showing that you do not care about the snide remarks and that they simply do not get to you, at all.
There are a few ways to focus your mind away from the person in mind, such as anchoring on a word in your mind until your anger passes, and regularly resting to balance your emotional stability.
This entry might prove to be difficult for some people who have a tendency to get angry easily.
The people with a short fuse or tendency to let other people get under their skin easily might have problems with this one due to their explosive nature.
In that case, it is for the best to read on some techniques on how to relax in a situation that triggers your anger before you look up some ways of handling snide remarks.
If you are a member of the infamous club of a short temper, this article might be an interesting read t you.
All in all, this way of handling the snide remarks might be more difficult for some people, but it is actually an easy way to keep the working atmosphere in the office and show the colleagues that by not showing that the snide remarks are bothering you enough to show any emotion, you are not the target they are looking for.
BE KIND TO THE PROBLEMATIC COLLEAGUE
This one is the ultimate empathic approach. If the colleague is constantly spewing snide remarks about you, one of the interesting approaches is to be really kind to them.
There are many benefits to becoming a kind person, one of them being the kindness boomerang. By being kind to him, you are showing that you do not care for the snide remarks they are making about you, and you might inspire him to be kind, as well.
Being kind primarily improves your mental state and it might help you more than just handling a snide remark.
Actually, empathy is a really important trait in the workplace as it enforces a positive increase in the atmosphere, thus, further increasing productivity.
Being kind to the colleague who is getting under your skin is a good way to make him stop using the snide remarks, and is really a simple rule to follow: forgive them and be happy!
TRY TO ESCAPE THE SITUATION
When in a workplace, one of the easiest ways to handle the snide remark or, if you see one incoming, avoid it completely.
An example of the situation could be this: you see a colleague coming into the break room or your cubicle, or office.
Then, when the colleague starts talking, if you see that they are going for a snide remark, look at the clock and say that you have to go do something. Easy as that.
Basically, if you know that that one colleague will always try to be funny by getting under your skin, you can always find a way to get out of the room and tell that you have work to do.
This entry is actually very similar to the “avoiding the colleague” entry, the only difference being that, in this case, you are confronting the “witty” colleague and snuffing them out before they start talking.
This is a way to handle the incoming snide remarks but the only disadvantage is that you might cut off the person that might tell you something work-related.
This can be used for “serial snide remarkers”, and should be used only if you are absolutely sure that that colleague will not say anything important or productive to you.
TALK TO THE COLLEAGUE ABOUT IT
Talking to the colleague that is bombarding you with snide remarks is one of the most important things to do, sooner or later.
It is important to express yourself and explain to them that their remarks annoy you and that they should stop.
Now, there are three ways to talk to the colleague.
The first way is to talk to them privately.
Simple one on one talk, where you explain the situation to them, explain that you are not comfortable with the remarks and that you do not find them funny.
This is the most civilized way to snuff out the situation and continue with your work.
The second way of talking is to talk to them on the spot, just after them saying the snide remark.
This one is tricky because, for a short-tempered person, the stuff that can come out of their mouth in the heat of the moment might not be something that they are going to proudly retell later.
On the other hand, you will come out as a person who does not like being pushed around and annoyed, so you might earn your colleagues’ respect.
It is an interesting way to confront the colleague and their snide remark, but at the same time, this type of confrontation might prove to be a double-edged sword.
The third and final way of handling the remark with a conversation is to jokingly confront the colleague with a snide remark of your own.
This one can be a tricky road, as you might be stuck in a perpetual competition of who thinks of a better or funnier remark if that colleague is persistent.
Even though it sounds childish, it is a way to try and make up a better and funnier remark than them, after which they might stop.
It is a strange and childish way to try and handle the remark and the colleague that makes it, however, out of all the three aforementioned ways of talking, it is the one that has the least chance of working.
It is important to talk to your colleagues, no matter the circumstances, as you promote open-mindedness and communication with them, which is an important trait for a workplace and colleagues to have.
For a person engaged in work, workspace atmosphere is one of the most important aspects of the workplace.
In this part of the text, some reasons and mental profiles for such behavior will be covered in short, and how you can help yourself mentally, in order to deflect those or any other similar remarks easily.
First of all, it is really difficult to stick a characteristic on a person that is throwing a snide remark at somebody. Is the person considered being a bully? Or being a mean person?
That depends on the nature and frequency of the remarks.
If we put a fusion of a bully mindset and a “mean” mindset into one and surround it with a workplace “coat”, it can be suggested that the person has been an object of other people’s remarks in their early career or previous jobs.
The combination of having been taught to behave like that on their previous workplaces and other factors, for example, the need to be liked, having a big ego, seeing you as being different, are all the prime characteristics of a bully.
Of course, being a part of the adult world, it is much easier to talk with that colleague that is bothering you, as you all share a common goal in the office.
Having said all that, it might possibly be a silly joke that the person uses to connect with other people, as some believe that people often use snide remarks to make themselves look funny and break the ice or relax the situation.
Of course, they can get out of line, but the golden rule to follow is for both parties to know when to speak and when to be silent.
Secondly, if you have a bit of a shorter fuse than other people, or simply cannot let go if someone is messing with you, in an emotional sense, there are a few things you can do to strengthen psychologically.
Firstly, you should focus your thoughts on bright thoughts, on places, people, and objects that inspire you. One should learn to not let a person dictate one’s thoughts.
Whenever you see the colleague or just any other person that knows how to get under your skin, be ready for their type of action that targets you and show them that it does not bother you anymore.
You have greater goals that will require iron will and full attention so that snide remark is just too small to deter you away from your charted goal.
Secondly, do not show the victim traits, even if you are one, in their eyes. The person is throwing the snide remarks in your face for their own selfish reasons, so do not give them the satisfaction of showing that it got to you.
Even after a while, you should not think about the remark and whether you have done something wrong. Throw those negative feelings and thoughts out the window and focus on your goals, achievements, and inspirations.
Finally, there are many ways to strengthen your mental state, for example, deep self-evaluation and progress reflection, if you are interested in reading a detailed explanation, here is an interesting article, in addition to a speech by Amy Morin, a psychotherapist whose expertise is giving advice regarding mental health.
Now the key thing here is assertive communication which basically means you’ll state the problem without adding oil to the fire.
You will take a stance and confront a passive-aggressive colleague, but you won’t verbally attack him, nor you will show that his/her comment got to you.
You will either address their claim or them in person and expose the convo for what it is – verbal aggression.
The thing here is that people who are passive-aggressive opt for passivity because they’re afraid of aggression in the open or because they enjoy seeing you confused about the nature of your relationship and downright scared of the thing they may say next.
The important thing to do is face them head-on and show them that you are not afraid and that you’re a force to be reckoned with. You don’t do that by displaying aggressive behavior yourself because aggression is actually a sign of weakness.
You remain calm, analyze their behavior and their potential motives and in a very serene tone, cut the whole thing at its core.
Or just use sarcasm, that’s what really gets on their nerves as well.
In conclusion, the working atmosphere is essential for a workplace to be seen as a productive and healthy work environment.
Even though there are always jokers around every office, there is a thin line between saying a witty and funny comment and throwing a snide remark.
Have in mind, that it is simply in some people’s nature to joke around by throwing snide remarks, one should always take it as such if the problem does not continue.
Be aware that it all depends on your mentality. If you are easy to forgive and not easily let people get under your skin, you are at a greater advantage than the people who cannot emotionally withstand those kinds of attacks with ease.
If you are one of the people that cannot easily let go of the snide remarks directed at them, just remember the ways of handling those snide remarks that have been mentioned in the text, and the ways you can exercise your mind to be more resilient to those snide remarks that are thrown at you.
All in all, it is important to understand that there are people and there will always be people who simply enjoy throwing snide remarks at their colleagues, friends or family, and the best possible option is to simply accept them and learn how to handle their snide remarks.
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