- There are 3 main reasons why people generally have the whole better than you attitude. Read on to find out what these reasons are.
- When a person thinks they are better than you, they will display the 15 signs discussed in this article. Read on to find out what these signs are.
- The best approach to someone who thinks they are better than you is to cut them down to size and show them that you see what they are doing and will not stand for it. Read on for specific ways how you do this.
Source: Pew Research
67% worry that the breakdown in trust among Americans is due to the following broad societal problems (2018). Source: Pew Research
This subject of this article is one that has caused considerable pain for many people. The 2018 study depicted in the above charts and seen on Pew Research showed that there is growing mistrust for each other among Americans. And one of the main reasons for this as shown in the second chart is attributable to societal problems such as selfishness and having a polarizing behavior. And these two factors are usually more in people who think they are perfect and better than others.
This article will help you unpack this burning societal issue and give you practical ways to address it when you find yourself dealing with someone who thinks they are better than you.
Check out our other very helpful related article on Signs someone wants to destroy you so that you are also equipped to deal with the other variant of toxic people.
Why Do Some People Think They Are Better Than Others? 3 Reasons Why Some People Think They Are Better Than Others.
People who generally think they are better than others think that way for three main reasons:
1. They have underlying self-esteem issues.
Having a good and positive sense of self-esteem requires you to see yourself in a positive light. But there is a huge difference between seeing yourself in a positive light quite independent of other people, and looking down on other people. One does not need to look down on others to feel great about themselves or have a good and positive sense of self-esteem because positive self-esteem does not need to put others down to get its sense of self-worth and completeness.
A person who is confident in who they are is also confident in the fact that they are great in their way, and so is everyone else. Everyone else has their form of greatness, and together we all come to make life and humanity enjoyable. They never think they are better than others. This is how a person with high self-esteem thinks. And because they think this way, they will not hesitate to pull others up and help them be their best.
A person who on the other hand needs to make others feel small or feel less than themselves in a bid to feel great has low self-esteem. Their need to put others down to feel big and powerful means that without that sort of power play they feel small and insignificant. And someone who feels small and insignificant has low self-esteem.
And so, the next time you see someone who thinks they are better than you display any of the condescending signs that will be listed in the next section, just remember that it is a reflection of their low self-esteem. Without that small display, they will otherwise feel small, insignificant, and powerless.
2. They have underlying insecurities.
This is also closely related to having underlying self-esteem issues. Someone who thinks they are better than you feel that way because they feel very insecure in themselves. Deep down, they have very deep insecurities that they are afraid everyone else will see if they don’t act like they are better. Maybe this insecurity is that they are not as smart or awesome as the one they want to laud their superiority over. Feeling superior to others gives them a form of validation and makes them feel like they have some form of power.
3. They may feel threatened by you.
And this may be the chief reason why they are acting in that way towards you. Perhaps you have something they wish they had but can’t seem to have. And the only way they can console themselves and make themselves feel good about not having it is by putting you down and acting as though they are better than you.
How you identify if this is the reason why they act condescendingly to you, is to pay close attention to the issue(s) they always talk about. If you notice that they make it a point to always talk down on you on a particular issue or issues, that issue is what threatens them. They see a positive of it in you and wish they had it. And the only way to make sure you don’t enjoy it is by talking down on you on the issue.
15 Signs Of A Condescending Person And Someone Who Thinks They Are Better Than You.
How then do you identify a person who thinks they are better than you? You probably have already seen some of these signs in action. When someone thinks they are better than you, you will see them display some or all of these signs.
1. A sense of entitlement.
For the one who displays this sign, if you look deeper into their past you will find that this is reminiscent of how they were brought up or grew up. They would have been spoilt in their earlier years. They always got what they wanted from their parents just by demanding it. As a result, they grow up thinking everything else in life works that way, except it doesn’t. Very soon they have the rude awakening that society doesn’t exactly work that way and that you can’t always have everything you want from people.
In response, they start to look down on those who can’t pander to their demands and begin to treat them as though they were beneath them. Behaving in this way gives them a false sense of being in control because they hope that by behaving in that fashion towards you, you will always give in and give them what they want. And for so long as this strategy continues to work for them, they will continue to use it.
2. They act perfect and holier than thou.
When someone thinks they are better than you they like to believe they are perfect and beyond reproach. This comes out in the way they talk to you especially when they think you have done something in a way they would not have done it.
This attitude also shows in the way they talk about themselves and how they handle issues. They may not come out to be effusive with praise about themselves but it will be implied in how they talk about the fact that had they not intervened in so and so way, things would never have been done well. In so speaking, they give themselves all the credit and ignore any other efforts that may have been brought to bear on the matter in question.
3. They never apologize but find a way to explain their fault away or put it on you.
This goes hand in hand with their perception of themselves as perfect and above reproach. And because they are perfect, even when they do something wrong, it can never be wrong because they are never wrong. And if for any reason it turns out to be wrong, it has to be your fault because after all, you are the imperfect one who can never seem to get anything right. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it. Once you see someone behaving like this, not only is this a sign that they think they are better, it also shows how toxic and narcissistic they are.
And if you don’t know how to handle them when they refuse to apologize, our article on What to do when someone won’t apologize provides helpful guidance. Be sure to check it out.
4. They talk down to you.
When you are having a conversation with someone who thinks they’re better than you, you will pick up condescending body language especially in their tone and the way they talk to you. The conversation never feels like two peers or friends talking. It will always feel like you are being addressed as an inferior person.
They will never talk to you as an equal even if you may be the same age. For them, their air of superiority gives them the right to adopt that stance even when they talk. The conversation will always feel like an admonition or a sermon or lecture because they feel it is their place and duty to tell you exactly how imperfect and beneath them you are. And if that is not the conversation you want to have then they have no interest in talking about anything else.
5. They will always find a way to belittle your accomplishments even if subtly.
This one is another classic tactic of people who think they’re better than you. Every other person’s accomplishment means nothing. Only their accomplishment counts. You see this in the small snide comments they make when you have something to celebrate. For instance, if you bought your first car, they may say something like “oh I wouldn’t even take that car even if it was a gift. But I am happy for you.” By watering down your accomplishment they want to sow seeds of doubt in your mind and make you feel as small and insignificant as they feel for not accomplishing what you did.
6. They talk over you.
Not only would they talk down on you, but when you eventually get the chance to speak, they will make sure that never happens because they will barge in and stop you mid-way or just raise their voice so that it towers over yours. Never mind that this is rude and disrespectful, but they couldn’t be bothered. Their thinking is that they are the only one who has something of importance and value to say, and whatever you are saying at that moment is insignificant and unimportant.
Related article: What to do when people don’t respect you.
7. They hardly listen when you are talking because they don’t think you have anything of value to say. Only their views are the best.
In addition to talking down to you or talking over you, if they eventually keep quiet, you may be fooled into thinking they are listening to what you are saying. But as soon as they open their mouth in response you immediately realize that they were not listening to you at all and were simply distracted with the “important” answer they had to give.
And how you know this is that sometimes their response is either so entirely off the point being discussed or repetition of almost everything you said. With the latter, they also feel the need to repeat you as a way of saying that it sounds better coming from them because they are better than you in articulating the point.
8. They always want to rub their accomplishments in your face even when unnecessary.
People who think they are perfect are always about “me, me, and me”. Every chance they get they want to tell you how amazing they are in accomplishing so and so. And they do this, even when it is unnecessary. So say for instance you are all in a group and the group won a prize. Rather than celebrate the accomplishment of the group and leave it at that, they will go out of their way to announce how by the way they won this and that prize last year or some years ago.
They cannot stand that the attention isn’t on them and so to bring it back to them, they attempt to redirect the focus to them by talking about an accomplishment that may not even be relevant, let alone necessary.
9. Every conversation always ends up being about them.
You may be talking about sushi in the restaurant and the conversation has to change to how much they have spent on something that sushi reminds them of. You may be telling them about a challenge you had and suddenly they remember that they handled a similar situation so well and turn the conversation into a story about them. Along the line, you are silenced and your issue is forgotten and replaced with how awesome they are. If you pay attention closely to all your conversations with them, it always ends with them as the subject of discussion.
10. They overcompensate by bragging a lot and speaking about their good deeds at every turn.
Talking about their good deeds is a way of cementing their perception of being so perfect and great. By showing you what they are doing, they are indirectly saying to you that you could never measure up to them or be as perfect or great as they are.
Someone who is genuinely altruistic and generous to others will not go about trumpeting it for the whole world to hear because they know that they don’t need any validation from anyone to feel great about the generosity activities they embark upon in helping others.
Read our article on the Characteristics of a generous person to learn more about the qualities of genuinely generous people.
11. They can be domineering and bullying.
People who are condescending and arrogant always expect to have their way. That expectation arises from their feeling of superiority over you. Because they are better than you, you cannot say no to them because according to them you are a nobody and have no right to say no. And so they will try everything possible to get you to submit to their wishes at all costs. They can try to muscle you by springing things on you at the very last minute and expecting you to work wonders and give them what they want.
12. They never seek anyone’s views or opinions because as far as they are concerned they are the best thing since sliced bread.
Someone who is emotionally mature and has a high sense of self-esteem will know that seeking other people’s views does not somehow mean that it calls their smartness into question. And yet this is how the person who thinks they are better perceives having to ask for anyone’s opinion before acting. To them doing such is a sign of weakness and calls into question their proclaimed smartness and perfection.
13. They never give any genuine or heartfelt compliment because as far as they are concerned nothing anyone does is as good as they are.
They see giving a genuine compliment as a sign of weakness and as well as a sign of their acknowledging that you could be better than them at what you’ve accomplished. And this rubs them the wrong way because as far as they are concerned they are the only ones who are perfect and can accomplish extraordinary things. And even if they force themselves to compliment you, they will immediately water it down with a negative comment of how they could have done it so much better if it were them.
14. They are always quick to give you unsolicited “advice” on how to change yourself because they want to make you feel small compared to them.
And they always use their lives and themselves as a reference point to drive the superiority feeling further home and make you feel small. And the funny thing about this one is that it is almost always the case that you didn’t even ask them for their “advice” but somehow they feel the need to give it because they think and believe that they are better than you.
15. They generally don’t respect rules and social etiquettes.
People who think of themselves as superior also decide that they cannot be bound by rules and social etiquettes. That if anything, these must bow to them. You see this in how they are always late for any meeting, event, or gathering. They have a false sense of importance and expect that things must start at their times or on their terms. And all this flows from their feeling that they are better than you and everyone else.
How To Manage And Deal With Someone Who Thinks They Are Better Than You.
How you deal with someone who thinks they are better than you will depend on the kind of relationship you have with them. If they are close to you, such as a friend, or they are members of your family, it won’t be the same approach as when you are dealing with either an acquaintance or a total stranger.
The bottom line however in whatever approach is adopted is that you must put them in their place and cut them down to their actual size. And some helpful ways you can do this for each of the three categories of individuals mentioned earlier are as follows.
If The Person Is Your Friend, Do This.
1. When they start giving you unsolicited advice, after they’ve finished, thank them for their “helpful advice” but tell them that you don’t need it at that point in time. And that when you need their “advice” you will ask for it.
When you make it clear in that way that their unsolicited advice isn’t welcome, they will think twice about giving it next time. They may act hurt at your words but do not give them the satisfaction of paying attention to it. Ignore it and immediately move on to other things.
If they tell you that they were only trying to help, thank them for their “help” but again emphasize that you don’t need it at that point, and that should you need it later, you will be sure to ask for it.
2. If they put down your accomplishment, call them out on it and tell them that it does feel like they are either not happy for you or think they are better than you.
One thing a person who thinks they are better than you hates is when you accuse them of being better than you. This is because when you say this, you bring their imperfection squarely to their face. They will profusely deny this and take offense but chances are they will never repeat such comments again to your face or your hearing.
3. And ultimately, the solution when you notice any of the 15 signs on the part of your friend is to sit them down and have a heart-to-heart conversation with them.
Tell them that you do not appreciate or like the things you’ve noticed them do and that you would like for them to change because you cannot continue with the friendship like that. If they continue and do not change, then you will have to do what is best for you, love and care for yourself, and give up the friendship because it will only get worse and affect you negatively. A good friend will never act like they are better than you and any friend that acts that way isn’t one that you should keep as a friend.
If They Are A Family Member Who May Be Older Than You, Do This.
1. Ignore the comments and do not let it get to you.
This would not be an easy feat to accomplish. You may feel like defending yourself but it is never worth it because you will only keep the person talking. And the more they talk, the more they make you feel small. The best thing is to give them a taste of their own medicine by shutting down and not listening to whatever it is they are saying. Once they are done, politely take your leave.
Don’t respond or rebut. When you respond in this way you disarm and leave them confused because they were hoping for a reaction or response from you. Your non-response also infuriates them because it leaves them with no ammunition to attack you later. After all, one cannot attack you based on what you haven’t said.
2. As much as possible keep your contact with them to the barest minimum unless it cannot be helped.
Unless it is completely unavoidable, it will be best to keep your contact with them to the barest minimum since you cannot exactly cut them off because they are family. As much as possible put boundaries in place about them coming to your home. You have every right to tell someone they cannot come or stay at your house if it’s not convenient for you.
Related article: What to do if your family hates you.
If They Are A Complete Stranger Or Acquaintance, Do This.
- Walk away when they behave in any of the 15 ways listed in the earlier section.
Don’t give anyone room to laud their perceived superiority over you. Politely tell them that it looks like they feel too important and so you would be taking your leave.
People who like to think they are better than others don’t like being put in their place so brazenly and openly. They will despise you for it, but it really isn’t your problem. You owe them nothing.
Frequently Asked Questions.
- What is the word for someone who thinks they are better than others?
There are several words used to describe such people. Some of these words are “egotistical” and “having a superiority complex”.
- What are some signs you think you’re better than others?
If you find that any of the 15 signs described in this article explains the way you interact with people, then sadly it means that you think you are better than others.
When All Is Said And Done!
Always remember that the end game of someone who thinks they are better than you is to make you feel small and insignificant. What you must never do is allow anyone to eat away at your self-esteem, self-worth, and self-confidence. Always affirm yourself and build your confidence so that no one can convince you otherwise about it.
And to make sure that it stays that way, the best solution to people who think they are better than you is to either cut them off completely or keep them at arm’s length and keep your interactions with them to the barest minimum. In that way, they cannot infect you with their poison.
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