Understanding the Patronizing soul
Hey there bee readers! After a super busy summer, I am happy to announce that we have hit quite a few home goals, decoratively speaking, and that I am slowly growing roots to the suburban life. Phil and I make quite the team as homeowners and though running a household differs in a million ways to living in a condo, I am loving it. I am also very glad to be in the city every day to get my fix, my Montreal!
Quizzing you on The Gram this week, I asked you guys if you would like to read about how to deal with a patronizing person and pretty much everyone answered yes (ok full disclosure, one person said no. Tough.). This is something that I feel is an interesting topic as we most likely all come across individuals who feel they have the right to tell us how to live our life or just plant us with unsolicited advice that makes us feel we didn’t know what we were doing in the first place. While it’s fine to deal with it on occasions, it can be quite a different story if you have to see this person at work or almost every day.
Personally, I have a hard time handling criticism, so when someone does make a remark on how I’m cooking or the way I do my work, it had better be a credible source and the message better be constructive (and not destructive) i.e. someone who knows me well and who truly does have good intentions at heart. If not, I will process this as an insult and my brain will let it go straight to my heart and I got emotions behind the wheel again. But that’s me and I have come to know when this is triggered. Don’t catch me when I’m tired though, it won’t be pretty ;)
So rather than shoot you some tips, I will take you through some of the thought process I sometimes go through to try and better understand where this “better than thou” approach comes from and consequently depersonalize it when I am faced with it.
First, as always, let us define what constitutes a patronizing individual. According to the online Merriam-Webster the patronizing adjective is:
characterized by a superior attitude towards others : marked by condescension
So this means the individual feels he or she is clearly superior to you and uses a tone that belittles others. Let’s take a step back and see how they got to behave that way (and of course, we have all used a patronizing tone dare I say a few times in our lives but I am referring to the permanent patronizing kind of course).
Beliefs and nurturing
Psychology 101 for the patronizing will always look at nature and nurture within childhood experiences. That is, what has this person known as a child to be rewarding? What was this person praised for? Whatever the answer is has most likely forged the set of beliefs for this person.
If, for example, little Paul was particularly rewarded for academic performance by his parents, he will most likely seek to repeat this in adulthood within the workplace, dismissing others who can’t keep up with his over-achieving manners. In fact, Harry Levinson from Harvard Business Review in the « The Abrasive Personality » piece mentions that
such a person is most usually extremely intelligent. With a passion for perfection, accuracy, and completeness, he pushes (himself) very hard and can be counted on to do a job well, often spectacularly
I find this to be true as well. The trouble is, people with such behavioural preferences tend to forget individual differences and will perhaps omit empathy (sensitivity, what it’s like to be in the other person’s shoes) when interacting and that is the part that will be abrasive and condescending.
What has this person known (aside from the parenting style they received) that has fostered the perfect environment for this hard “I am in charge” attitude? Have they taken care of an ill loved one? Were they the first born of three or more children and continuously responsible for them? Could they rely on trusted adults, a support system or did they always have to fend for themselves all the time?
If this person has essentially be trained to always be the “manager” of a team at a critically young age, it comes to no surprise that their natural behavioural preference be to patronize or cut you off and tell you how to do it. This is what has enabled them to succeed in most situations. This is how they survived when no one else was there to throw them a life line.
Harry Levinson mentions of the example he describes as abrasive that:
He (the abrasive character in the article) tends to want to do the job himself, however, finding it difficult to lean on others who he feels will not do it to his standards, on time, or with the required finesse.
My name is Ivana. I love photography and meeting people. I hold a Master's in counselling psychology and work as a career consultant. Music is my fuel and an important source of energy in my life. I drive my vespa around the city and I love what I do! :) About this blog: me on my artistic soap box!
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