There are some phrases that really highlight when someone is being arrogant and condescending.
Some of them might have even passed under your radar!
If there’s someone who’s ticking you off and you don’t know why, try and take a gander at these 10 phrases.
Chances are that your annoyance is because of the subtle arrogance and condescension in their words.
1) “You can do better than that”
This is a very subtle way to communicate condescension, and it passes under the radar most of the time because it can easily pass for encouragement.
But while some people may say “you can do better than that!” in earnest, most of the time, it’s actually nothing more than a nonpliment—a way to invalidate the effort that someone has put into their work or presentation.
A more constructive way to say that someone can do better would be to first compliment them, inform them that they could improve somewhat, and then offer a specific suggestion.
So if you don’t want to be like them, say something like, “This looks great! But if you’re open to criticism, there are some things that could use improvement.”
It takes more words, but it’s overall gentler and more respectful.
2) “Yeah, well…everyone knows that”
As tempting as it can be to say “oh, everyone knows that” when someone is sharing something that is, well… a well-known fact, don’t.
It’s just not nice to say. And besides, it’s annoying because even if certain topics have been discussed many times, there’s always something new about it that can be talked about.
So if someone you know has absolutely no issues saying this out loud, then they’re definitely arrogant and condescending even if they don’t think they are.
It’s ultimately a way to shut people up and make them feel bad for even bringing it up in the first place because, well…everyone knows that. They have to be living under a rock not to know!
3) “I don’t mean to brag, but…”
The moment that someone says this phrase, you can be sure that they actually DO mean to brag.
it’s just that, they don’t want you to feel bad about yourself. And of course, they don’t want you to think they’re high and mighty…and you know, bragging.
It would actually be less offensive if they straight up admitted that they’re bragging.
Simply saying “I’m very good at driving” is not offensive in the least, while saying “I don’t mean to brag, but I’m a good driver” is a prime demonstration in arrogance.
It also means they’re aware that they’re much better than you…because after all, the very fact that they say it means they’re aware you could feel envious and think that they’re bragging.
4) “Just a friendly reminder…”
Unless the person saying this is some kind of official announcer or organizer trying to dole out PSAs, be wary the moment you hear these words come from someone’s mouth.
You can be quite certain that, most of the time, their reminder is anything but friendly. If anything, it’s likely to be passive-aggressive and condescending.
And in a way, it’s basically saying “I think you don’t care to remember this, so I’m going to remind you and drive it home that I think you forgot!”
And they’ll, of course, say it with a fake smile to make you shudder.
5) “You should already know this by now”
Whether said empathetically or mentioned in passing, nobody likes being told “you should already know this.”
If it truly is so obvious that one should already know it, then there’s no point in saying this phrase.
It’s just otherwise a way to tell someone that they’re a dummy for not knowing something that they OBVIOUSLY should already know by now.
A better way to check whether someone is aware of something is to simply ask about it, regardless of whether it’s something that seems “obvious” or “common knowledge.”
They could say “Pardon, but you know about it, right?” for example. Or “Did you forget about this? I can help you.”
6) “You’re completely missing my point”
Saying that someone is “COMPLETELY missing their point” is basically putting the blame on them for not grasping the explanation well enough.
And this isn’t entirely fair.
Just because someone tried to explain something doesn’t mean that the people they’re talking to will get it. That’s not how communication works.
If anything, it’s the duty of the one making the argument to make their point as easy to understand as possible and to bridge that gap between their experiences so that they’ll be understood.
If it truly is hard to bridge that gap and be understood, a better way to end the conversation would be to simply admit that they’ll never see eye to eye and… stop.
7) “Just relax”
Phrases like “just relax”, “just calm down”, and “chill out a little” are the last words that someone who is clearly not relaxed will want to hear.
If you think about it, they must have certainly tried to do their best to calm down and failed. Telling them to calm down is basically invalidating whatever they’re feeling and will only rile them up.
People would rather have someone ask them why they’re so agitated and ask if there’s anything they can do to help.
After all…who doesn’t WANT to be relaxed?
8) “But… it’s very easy though?”
This phrase basically tells people one thing—that they aren’t willing to look at things from their perspective.
The thing is that sometimes people simply have difficulties doing things that other people find easy as pie, and they’re used to being dismissed because of it.
Someone who says things like “oh, but this is very easy!” and “I did it in one day, how hard could it be?” is someone who isn’t willing to empathize.
They think “If I can do it, why can’t others do it too?”
9) “If I were you…”
This is one of those phrases that are relatively okay when spoken by a parent to a child looking for advice…but is more likely than not condescending in every other circumstance.
Unless someone specifically asked someone else what they would do in their situation, being told “if I were you…” is kind of insulting.
It’s basically a very low-key way to say “I don’t trust your judgment, I think I can make better decisions than you.”
When in doubt, if you ever catch someone keep saying things like “If I were you” and trying to present their own solutions to another’s problem unprompted, they’re arrogant in their own self-confidence.
10) “No offense, but…”
This is the favorite statement of arrogant people.
They have variations of it like:
“Well, I’m not trying to be rude but…”
“I don’t want to sound like an asshole but…”
The moment you hear these kinds of phrases, you turn into a rock. Be ready to expect an offensive statement.
This is a hedging phrase, used to “soften” the blow to a harsh statement, though in most cases it only serves to make things worse.
When someone says this, it means that they’re well aware that whatever they have to say is actually fully offensive and yet they somehow feel compelled to say it no matter what.
Someone who says “no offense, but your sense of fashion is horrid” is, without a doubt, being much more condescending than someone who simply says “I think your sense of fashion is horrid.”
With the latter, at least they’re giving you the right to react to what they think and say.
If you’re trying to determine if someone is indeed arrogant and condescending, keep an ear out for these phrases.
Make sure you also catch their tone while at it.
Trust your feelings—if you ever feel like you’re being put down every time you talk with someone, they’re probably being condescending.
But what do you do then, if you are with someone who is exactly like that?
The best way to handle it would be to simply avoid them or, at the very least, minimize contact. Don’t think that you can change them, because only they can change themselves.
And someone who is arrogant enough to be openly condescending (no matter how subtly) isn’t likely to humble themselves enough to let another person “help” them.
If anything, they’ll dig their heels in and get worse and comfort themselves by saying to themselves “You do you.”
So if you want peace of mind, just work on protecting yourself.