7 Polite Ways to Put Pretentious People in Their Place ...

Lyndsie

7 Polite Ways to Put Pretentious People in Their Place ...
7 Polite Ways to Put Pretentious People in Their Place ...

There's nothing quite like encountering a pretentious person, is there? You know the type. They've got an endless supply of pompous tales, a treasure trove of insufferable anecdotes, and somehow manage to bring up their ivy-league education or artisanal kombucha-making skills in every conversation. As if being in 2024 isn't tough enough—with AI taking over the world and us still figuring out how to do a decent Zoom call—we now have to navigate the minefield of interacting with these self-important individuals.

My own run-ins with the symbol of pretentiousness began in university. Oh, the stories I could tell you! From Harold, the guy who only drank single-origin Ethiopian coffee and refused to partake in our humble dorm-room instant brew, to Lila, my roommate who narrated her "experiences" at private art galleries as though attending the local farmer's market were beneath her. It was, to put it mildly, exhausting. After years of practice and a few slip-ups that earned me cold glares, I've put together a foolproof list of polite strategies to deal with these charming characters.

First off, you might find some insight in "Mastering the Fine Art of Fake Interest". This chapter will dive into the nuances of maintaining your sanity while nodding appreciatively at Arin's 45-minute soliloquy on 16th-century tapestries. Believe me, there's an art to the well-timed "Oh, really? Fascinating!"

Simultaneously, we can't overlook the importance of chapter 4's “Redirect and Conquer.” Because sometimes the best way to handle a boastful braggart is to steer the conversation into safer, more benign territory. Mastering the art of smooth conversational pivots will not only save you from endless boredom but can even add a little spice to your dialogue.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. We all need a solid foundation, and that’s exactly what you’ll find in chapter 2, where we discuss "Subtle Signals of Disinterest." Nothing says, "I'm not buying what you're selling," like a well-timed glance at your phone or casually bringing up the latest episode of a reality TV show you know they find abominable.

Fact is, when you're rubbing elbows with snobs and show-offs, it's all about having the right mix of politeness and cheek. A dash of humor, a sprinkle of disengagement, and a generous serving of clever conversational skills can make dealing with these folks slightly less unbearable. So grab your finest imported cheese, pour yourself a glass of vintage wine (or, if you’re like me, some store-brand cola), and get ready to arm yourself with the sharpest social tactics of 2024.

Now, onto the nitty-gritty details, shall we? Buckle up; it’s going to be an amusing ride!

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1

Ignore the Behavior

With any type of bad behavior, you have to ignore it when you want to put people in their place. Anything else is just negative reinforcement, and it will encourage the behavior. With pretentious behavior in particular, the person wants acknowledgment and attention. They crave it. Withholding it is the best way to defeat them. As with any other annoying quirk, once they see they aren't getting the reactions they need, they'll stop – or at least move on to someone else.

Pretentious behavior is usually a way for people to get attention. They might act like they know everything or act superior to others. Withholding attention is the best way to deal with this behavior. Once the person sees that they aren't getting the reaction they want, they will stop.

***

Pretentious people often act superior to others in order to gain recognition. They may display a sense of superiority by talking in a condescending manner, making false claims, or bragging about their accomplishments. This type of behavior can be difficult to deal with, but there are ways to put them in their place without being rude.

One way to handle pretentious people is to stay calm and remain polite. Acknowledge their comments or opinions, but don't engage in an argument. This will show that you are not intimidated by their behavior.

Another way to handle pretentious people is to redirect the conversation. Ask them questions about their interests or hobbies, and then change the topic to something else. This will show that you are not interested in their pretentious behavior.

It can also be helpful to ignore the behavior and not give the person the attention they crave. This will make them realize that they are not getting the reactions they want and may stop the behavior.

Finally, it can be beneficial to compliment the person on something they have done well. This will show that you value their accomplishments and will help to put them in their place without being rude.

2

Maintain Indifference

There are some things you just can't ignore, however. Your own personality might make it impossible (I'm guilty of this, I admit), but you may also be dealing with a team member or a family member whom you simply can't ignore. In that case, pull out another sharp weapon: indifference. This way you're kind of ignoring the behavior, if not the person, and showing that you're bored by those know-it-all comments and attempts at superiority.

***

Indifference is a powerful tool to put pretentious people in their place. It can be difficult to ignore someone, especially if you have to interact with them regularly. However, maintaining indifference can be a great way to show that you are bored by the person's attempts to appear superior. It can also be a way of ignoring the behavior, if not the person.

Indifference is a way to demonstrate that you are not impressed by the person's attempts to show off their knowledge or skills. It is a way to show that you are not interested in engaging in a battle of wits with them. It can also be a way to show that you are not intimidated by the person's attempts to show superiority.

Indifference can be hard to maintain, especially if the person is a family member or someone you have to work with. In this case, it is important to remember that you do not have to engage in the person's attempts to show superiority. You can simply remain indifferent and not react to their comments or behaviors.

Indifference can also be a way to show respect for the other person. It can demonstrate that you are not looking down on them but instead that you are not interested in engaging in a battle of wits.

Frequently asked questions

Being pretentious means acting more important than you really are or showing off in a way that makes you seem better or smarter than others.

Someone might be pretentious if they talk a lot about their own success, use fancy words just to impress, or act like they know everything about a topic.

Not if you do it politely. Confronting someone about their behavior can be helpful if it’s done in a kind and respectful way.

You can nicely ask them questions about what they’re saying, which can encourage them to explain more and maybe realize they are exaggerating.

Yes, you can ignore them or change the subject if you don't want to deal with their behavior.

Being direct can be good, but try to be gentle. You can say that you see things differently or that you're interested in other points of view, too.

Yes, a little joke can lighten the mood. Just be careful that your humor isn’t mean-spirited.

Stay humble, listen to others, and don't brag. It's okay to share your achievements, but don't overdo it, and make sure to show interest in others, too.

You can't force someone to change, but you can decide how much you want to interact with them. If their behavior bothers you, you might choose to spend less time with them.

It depends. If the person is a friend or colleague and you think they might be open to feedback, it could be worth a conversation. But if it's someone you don't know well, it might be better to let it go.

Take a deep breath and remember their behavior isn't about you. If you can, express your feelings calmly. If not, it might be best to walk away and find someone else to talk to.

3

Stand up for Your Opinions

Pretentious people generally need to be right all the time, even when they're not right. To them, their opinions are as good as facts because they're experts in everything. They know more than you, they work harder than you, they're cooler than you – they're superior in every way. Or so they think, of course, but in truth they're rarely superior to anyone. Certainly, you are not inferior, and neither are your opinions. Stand up for them, don't change your mind or get backed into a corner. Moreover, make it a point to say that everyone is entitled to an opinion, and every opinion is valuable to the person expressing it. That should go a long way toward shutting down the pretentious behavior.

***

Pretentious people often act as if their opinions are the only ones that matter. They can be condescending and dismissive of other people's ideas and feelings. This can be especially difficult to deal with in social situations, where the pretentious person may be a friend, family member, or colleague.

Fortunately, there are polite ways to put pretentious people in their place. One of the most important things to do is to stand up for your own opinions. Make it clear that your views are just as valid as anyone else's. Don't be afraid to disagree with the pretentious person, and don't let them push you into a corner.

It is also important to remember that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, no matter how wrong or misguided it may be. This doesn't mean you have to agree with them, but it does mean that you should treat their views with respect.

Finally, don't be afraid to call out the pretentious behavior. Acknowledge it and let the person know that their attitude is not appreciated. This can be done in a polite and respectful way, but it is important to make it clear that the behavior is not acceptable.

4

Never Act Impressed

Because pretentious people crave attention, they also want you to be impressed with everything they do. As an example, the Better Half works with someone who recently accepted a part time position in a bookstore. This has made her an unequivocal expert in literature, and she has a tendency to bulldoze over and argue with anyone who doesn't automatically agree that every book she loves is the Best Book Ever. Have you experienced a similar behavior? Never act impressed by it. It's not impressive. It's half-assed and harebrained. You don't have to say that, but maintain your cool, cordial indifference and let the perpetrator know you aren't at all impressed.

Pretentious people crave attention and want you to be impressed with everything they do. They may bulldoze over and argue with anyone who doesn't automatically agree that every book they love is the Best Book Ever. You can maintain your cool, cordial indifference and let the perpetrator know you aren't at all impressed.

***

When you encounter this type of incessant self-promotion, keep your responses neutral. Offer comments like, "That’s interesting" or "I'll have to think about that." Using noncommittal language prevents you from fueling their ego while also avoiding unnecessary conflict. Remember, your lack of awe won't deflate their self-importance, but it certainly doesn't add to it. Let their need for validation go unmet from your end, and eventually, they may tone down the ostentation when interacting with you.

5

Confront the Behavior

The person you're dealing with may not realize that their behavior is inappropriate or annoying. Then again, maybe they know it is and just assume know one will ever call them on it. Call them on it. Don't do it angrily, nastily, or rudely. Take the person aside and let them know how their behavior affects the people around them. Don't do it in front of a group. You might be tempted to embarrass them publicly, but that feeds into the need for attention and validation, plus it gives them the chance to play victim. A quiet chat is better, because it's respectful and allows the person to save face.

***

When dealing with pretentious people, it's important to confront their behavior in a polite and respectful way. Don't do it in front of a group, as this will only feed into their need for attention and validation, and give them the chance to play the victim. Instead, take the person aside and let them know how their behavior is affecting the people around them. Be sure to do it in a calm and respectful manner.

It's possible that the person may not realize that their behavior is inappropriate or annoying. If this is the case, try to explain why their behavior is unacceptable and how it is making other people feel. Let them know that you are not trying to be confrontational, but rather that you are trying to help them understand how their behavior is affecting others.

If the person is aware that their behavior is inappropriate, they may be trying to get attention or validation from others. In this case, it's important to let them know that their behavior is not acceptable and that it is not appropriate to try to get attention or validation from others in this way.

6

Assert Your Authority

You know things too. This is similar to standing up for your opinion, but you also need to assert your authority as a fellow human being with intelligence, knowledge, and expertise. No one should ever try to put anyone else down or make them feel stupid. Don't allow the pretentious person in your life to get away with trying to – and politely but quietly stand up for other targets as well.

If someone is trying to make you feel stupid, or put you down, don't let them get away with it. Politely but quietly stand up for yourself, and for other people who might be targets of the same behavior. Show that you are just as intelligent and knowledgeable as the other person, and that you won't tolerate being treated disrespectfully.

***

In today's world, people can often come across as pretentious, trying to make themselves look superior or more knowledgeable than those around them. This can be especially true in social situations, where people may be trying to one-up each other. Unfortunately, this can lead to people feeling belittled or put down.

Fortunately, there are some polite ways to put pretentious people in their place. Asserting your authority is one way to do this. Show that you are just as knowledgeable and intelligent as the other person, and don’t allow them to make you feel stupid. Politely but firmly stand up for yourself and for other people who might be targets of the same behavior.

Another way to handle a pretentious person is to make them realize that you are not intimidated by them. Don’t be afraid to challenge them, and don’t be afraid to call them out if they are wrong. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to laugh at their jokes, even if they are trying to be serious.

7

Ask “Why?” Incessantly

Question a pretentious person about their claims and fact-forced opinions, and they'll almost always back down. That's generally because they don't have anything to back up their overblown assertions. Besides that, if you ask why, for example, your friend insists that Pride and Prejudice is a boring, horrible book or why your brother-in-law knows for a fact that your favorite show sucks, they'll both stop short. Questioning the opinions they pass off as factual knowledge throws them off keel and leaves them floundering, simply because they're likely unaccustomed to being questioned.

You don't have to be rude or confrontational to put people in their place. In fact, it's better if you remain tactful and considerate, because this will further emphasize the other person's pretentious behavior. Always remember, as well, that this person may not even realize how they come across to others. In the event that they do, however, shutting down this horrid behavior in a polite, detached way is far and away the best approach. What's your behavior pet peeve? How do you deal with it when someone exhibits it?

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