You know that person who always acts like they’re better than everyone else? The one who talks down to people and acts all high and mighty? Yeah, that’s not a good look. Believe it or not, we all catch ourselves slipping into condescending behavior from time to time. It usually stems from insecurity. But being a know-it-all or acting superior doesn’t win you any friends. If you want people to actually like you, it’s time to drop the attitude.

In this article, we’ll go over some simple ways to stop acting like you’re better than others. With a few small tweaks, you can come across as more down-to-earth and approachable. People may even start to enjoy your company!

How to Stop Being Condescending:

To stop being condescending, it’s important to cultivate self-awareness and empathy. Recognize the signs of condescending behavior, such as interrupting others, offering unsolicited advice, or using a patronizing tone. Practice active listening, which involves fully concentrating on the speaker, understanding their message, and responding thoughtfully. Humility is also key; acknowledge that everyone has unique knowledge and experiences. Encouragement and positive reinforcement can replace negative comments. If you’re unsure whether your advice is welcome, simply ask before offering it. These steps can help create a more respectful and collaborative environment.

Check Yourself: Take a hard look at how you interact with people. Do you frequently correct others or imply they don’t know as much as you? That’s condescending behavior. Make an effort to curb that impulse. Instead of lecturing coworkers or tearing down their ideas, try listening with an open mind. You might learn something new.

Avoid Aggressive Language:  Pay attention to your tone and word choice. Do you use phrases like “obviously” or “as anyone can see” frequently? That’s a subtle way of talking down to others. Replace that language with more neutral terms. For example, say “I understand why you see it that way” instead of “Obviously, you’re mistaken.”

Value Others’ Opinions: Just because someone does something differently than you would doesn’t mean they’re wrong. Try to be open-minded and recognize that there are many valid ways of approaching a situation. Make an effort to consider other perspectives with an open and curious mindset. You’ll gain a lot more respect by valuing others’ input.

Admit When You’re Wrong: Nobody is right all the time. If you express an opinion and are proven incorrect, own up to your mistake with sincerity and humility. Say something like “You make a good point. I was mistaken on that one.” Admitting fault shows you value truth over ego and brings you back down to the same level as everyone else.

Treat People as Equals: At the end of the day, we’re all humans. Regardless of someone’s background, job title, or intelligence, they deserve your respect. Make a conscious effort to engage with all people as true equals. Maintain an open, approachable demeanor, and speak to others the way you’d like them to speak to you. With kindness, empathy, and understanding.

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1. Recognize When You’re Being Condescending

Recognize When You're Being Condescending
Recognize When You’re Being Condescending

Face it, we’ve all acted like we’re better than others at some point. The first step is acknowledging when you’re coming across as condescending. Some signs you may need an attitude of adjustment are:

  •  You frequently interrupt others or talk over them. It signals you think what you have to say is more important.
  •  You use a patronizing tone. Speaking slowly or loudly, as if the other person won’t understand otherwise. Drop the superiority complex.
  •  You make assumptions. Jumping to conclusions about someone else’s knowledge, skills or experience is condescending. Ask open-ended questions instead.
  •  You issue orders or directives. Politely asking someone to do something is better than commanding them. Try “Would you mind…” instead of “Do this…”.
  •  You fail to listen. If you’re not listening to understand the other person’s perspective, you’re acting like your own opinions are more valuable. Make eye contact, give the speaker your full attention and avoid formulating your response while they’re still talking.

Recognizing these behaviors in yourself is the first step. Next, make a conscious effort to avoid these habits and replace them with more respectful alternatives. For example, engage in active listening, ask open-ended questions, use an even and friendly tone of voice, and avoid interrupting. Treat people the way you wish to be treated.

With regular practice, these new behaviors can become second nature. You’ll find your interactions with others becoming more positive and mutually fulfilling. And that feels good for everyone involved.

2. Understand Where Your Superior Attitude Comes From

The root cause of your condescending behavior likely stems from insecurity and a need to feel superior to others. Think back to when this attitude first emerged. Did you experience bullying, trauma or lack of affection in your early life that made you feel “less than”? Our childhood experiences shape us in profound ways, and the coping mechanisms we develop can be hard to shake.

Insecurity breeds contempt. When you feel unsure of yourself, it’s easy to project those feelings onto others through criticism, judgment, and a holier-than-thou attitude. Recognizing this tendency is the first step. Look for signs that your superiority complex is surfacing, like rolling your eyes when someone says something you disagree with or making underhanded comments about another’s worth or intelligence. Call yourself out in the moment and make an effort to be more open-minded and compassionate.

You are not defined by external measures of worth. Perhaps you’ve attached too much of your self-esteem to superficial measures of success like job titles, income, degrees, or material possessions. The truth is, you are so much more than those external labels. Your worth comes from within—your values, morals, relationships, and impact on the world. Try to reframe your perspective to appreciate people for who they are, not what they have achieved.

Understanding the root cause of your attitude is key to making a change. With conscious effort and practice, you can overcome your superiority complex by learning to appreciate yourself-and others- for who you really are. Focus on listening without judgment, finding common ground, and showing genuine interest in people from all walks of life. In the end, we are all far more alike than different.

3. Check Your Biases and Stereotypes

Check Your Biases and Stereotypes
Check Your Biases and Stereotypes

Everyone has implicit biases and makes assumptions about others, often without realizing it. The first step to overcoming condescension is acknowledging your own biases and prejudices. Ask yourself some tough questions:

  •  Do I make assumptions about people based on their race, gender, age, or appearance?
  •  Do I hold stereotypical views of certain groups that make me see them in a negative light?
  •  Do I judge people who are different from me?

Being aware of these tendencies is key. Make an effort to challenge biases and stereotypical thoughts when they arise. See people as individuals, not as representatives of groups.

Look for common ground. Rather than focusing on differences, look for commonalities you share with others. We are all humans, dealing with similar life experiences, hopes, and struggles. Try starting a genuine conversation with someone you normally wouldn’t. You may find that your preconceptions and judgments start to fade as you build empathy and understanding.

Avoid labeling and generalizing. It’s easy to label and make sweeping generalizations about those unlike us. But people are complex and multi-faceted. Don’t assume that because someone belongs to a particular group, you know all there is to know about them. See each person as an individual with a unique set of qualities, experiences, and perspectives.

Make an effort to be open-minded and curious rather than judgmental Overcoming biases and stereotypical thinking is challenging, but it is possible with conscious work and practice. Like any habit, it becomes easier over time. Treat all people with empathy, respect, and compassion. This will help shift your mindset and make condescension a thing of the past.

4. Practice Active Listening, Before Speaking

One of the biggest reasons people come across as condescending is that they’re not actually listening to others. They’re just waiting for their turn to talk, or thinking about what they want to say next. To stop this behavior, make a conscious effort to become an active listener.

Focus on the speaker. When someone else is talking, give them your full attention. Make eye contact, keep an open and interested expression, and avoid distractions. Pay attention to their body language and tone of voice, in addition to their actual words. Try to understand their perspective and emotions, not just their surface meaning.

Avoid Interrupting. It’s rude to cut someone off mid-sentence or jump in as soon as they take a pause. Wait for them to finish speaking before you start talking. And when you do respond, reflect back what they said to show you were listening. Say something like, “It sounds like you felt frustrated when that happened.” This validates them and ensures you understood correctly.

Ask follow-up questions. If there’s something you’re unclear on or want to know more about, ask an open-ended follow up question. But don’t interrogate the person or put them on the spot. Questions should seem interested and caring, not judgmental. Say, “Can you tell me more about how that made you feel?” rather than “Why on earth did you do that?”

Withhold Judgment. While listening, avoid mentally criticizing or second-guessing the speaker. React to the content of their message with an open mind. Your role is to understand them, not pass judgment. If you have a differing opinion, share it respectfully once they’ve finished speaking. Say, “I can see your perspective. Here’s how I see it…” rather than “You’re wrong, and here’s why.”

Practicing good listening skills will not only help you avoid seeming condescending but will also strengthen your connections with others and give you a reputation as someone who is caring, thoughtful, and empathetic. Make the effort to truly hear people and speak with compassion.

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5. Practice Empathy – Put Yourself in Their Shoes

Practice Empathy - Put Yourself in Their Shoes
Practice Empathy – Put Yourself in Their Shoes

To stop being condescending, make an effort to see things from other people’s perspectives. Try to understand their motivations and experiences. Ask yourself questions like:

  •  What do they have to gain or lose in this situation?
  •  What life events have shaped their opinions or behaviors?
  • How would I feel if I was in their place?

See Their Struggles. Realize that everyone has struggles you know nothing about. The person you’re tempted to look down on may be dealing with illness, loss, addiction, poverty, or a lack of opportunity. Have compassion for what others may be going through silently. No one has an easy, perfect life.

Focus on similarities. Rather than differences, look for common ground and shared experiences. Underneath it all, most people want the same basic things: to be happy, healthy, and provide for their loved ones. Recognize that, at our core, we are far more alike than unalike. This can help overcome tendencies to feel superior by virtue of race, class, education level, or other attributes.

Avoid Judgment. Catch yourself when you start to form negative judgments about others and reframe your thoughts. Replace criticism with understanding and generosity. Look for the good in people and the situation. Everyone is deserving of dignity and respect, regardless of their perceived flaws or mistakes. Make a habit of withholding judgment unless absolutely necessary.

Practicing empathy and understanding can help transform feelings of condescension into compassion. Make the effort to see through another’s eyes, and you may find your tendency to feel superior begin to fade. Focus on our shared humanity instead of surface differences. Approach each person with kindness, assuming good intent, and recognizing their inherent worth. In doing so, you open your heart to overcome arrogance and connect with others in a spirit of goodwill.

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6. Don’t Make Assumptions About Others

It’s human nature to make snap judgments about people, but that doesn’t make it right. When you assume you know someone’s situation, abilities, or character, you risk insulting them and damaging your relationship.

Avoid stereotyping. Just because someone is of a particular race, gender, age, or socioeconomic group doesn’t mean they fit the stereotype. See each person as an individual. Get to know them for who they are – their unique experiences, skills, values, and dreams. Stereotyping only serves to dehumanize others and promote prejudice.

Don’t judge based on appearances. How someone dresses or carries themselves says Ettle about their true character or abilities. Some of the most brilliant, kind-hearted people come across as disheveled or eccentric. And some malicious types are skilled at appearing polished and professional. Appearances can be deceiving, so look beyond the surface.

Ask open-ended questions. If you want to get a sense of who someone really is, engage them in genuine conversation. Ask open- ended questions about their interests, background, values, and goals. Then listen without judgment. You’ll gain insight into their humanity, and you may find your assumptions and prejudices melt away.

Consider the context. Before judging someone’s actions or choices, consider the context surrounding them. There are often many factors influencing people’s behavior that we can’t see. Someone may be dealing with unimaginable hardships, trauma, mental health issues, or other personal struggles. Compassion is always the best approach.

When interacting with others, check your assumptions at the door. Approach each new person with an open and curious mind. Look for the humanity in each individual, and meet them with empathy, understanding, and respect. This is the path to building meaningful connections and fostering a just society for all.

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7. Be open to Feedback and Criticism

Be open to Feedback and Criticism
Be open to Feedback and Criticism

One of the hardest things to do is accept criticism graciously, but it’s essential to stop being condescending. When someone offers you feedback or criticizes your behavior, try not to get defensive. Listen with an open mind and look for the kernels of truth in what they’re saying. Ask clarifying questions if needed and try to understand their perspective.

Rather than arguing or making excuses, say something like, “Thank you for the feedback. I’ll give it some thought.” Then, reflect on what was said and look for ways you can improve. Maybe the person felt demeaned by a comment you made or sensed you were being judgmental. Look for patterns in interactions where people seem put off by you.

It can also help to ask trusted friends or family members for honest feedback about your behavior. Let them know you’re working on being less condescending and want to understand how you come across to others. Be prepared for some hard truths, but remember that the people who care about you most will deliver criticism with compassion.

When you do receive feedback, work on not being defensive. Don’t make excuses or blame the other person. Respond with humility and grace, focusing on listening rather than defending yourself. Say something like, “I appreciate you bringing this to my attention. I don’t want my behavior to make others feel that way.” Make a sincere apology if needed.

Use feedback and self-reflection as an opportunity to grow. Look for the kernel of truth and think about small ways you can adjust your behavior and communication style. Over time, being open to criticism and acting on it will help transform your interactions and relationships. You’ll become a better listener, develop a healthier perspective, and stop acting like you’re superior to those around you.

The ability to accept criticism with grace and humility is a sign of maturity and emotional intelligence. Make the effort to foster an open, learning mindset. Be willing to acknowledge your shortcomings, blind spots, and the impact of your behavior on others. Look at feedback as a gift that allows you to become your best self. In the end, it will help you build better connections and stop being condescending.

8. Ask Questions Instead of Giving Unsolicited Advice

Rather than assuming you have all the answers, try asking questions to better understand someone else’s perspective or situation. People often appreciate a listening ear more than unwarranted advice. Ask open-ended questions to clarify details and show you genuinely want to understand their point of view.

For example, instead of telling a friend what they “should” do about a problem at work, ask questions like:

  •  What specifically is the issue you’re facing?
  •  How has this impacted your productivity or morale?
  •  What solutions have you already considered?
  •  What do you think is the best approach and why?

Questions like these demonstrate your interest, open up a meaningful dialogue, and allow the other person to think through the problem aloud. They may even realize the solution on their own just by talking it through with your encouragement.

Even if asked directly for your recommendation, frame it as a question. Rather than declaring “Here’s what I would do,” ask “Have you considered this option?” or “Do you think this approach might help?” Give the other person room to determine what advice resonates most with them. Questions empower others by recognizing their ability to solve their own problems.

Make a habit of rephrasing statements into questions, especially when you feel the urge to give unprompted advice. Ask “How did that make you feel?” rather than say “You must have felt angry.” Ask “What do you make of this situation?” instead of proclaiming “This is obviously unfair.” With practice, you’ll find yourself judging others less and engaging in conversations more.

Becoming a better listener through thoughtful questions is one of the most effective ways to stop acting condescending towards others. When you seek to understand rather than be understood, you gain insights into different perspectives and build more genuine connections. Approaching each interaction with an attitude of openness and curiosity is key to overcoming a tendency to feel superior. So, ask away!

9. Replace Judgment with Curiosity

Replace Judgment With Curiosity
Replace Judgment with Curiosity

Rather than judging others, try cultivating a sense of genuine curiosity about them. When you find yourself being critical or condescending, pause and ask yourself some questions:

What might this person’s perspective be? What experiences have shaped how they think? We’re all products of our environments, so try putting yourself in their shoes. Seek to understand rather than form assumptions.

  •  Ask open-ended questions to learn more about them and their views. Say something like, “Tell me more about how you came to that conclusion.” This can help broaden your perspective and build empathy.
  • Try using phrases like, “I hadn’t considered that before. Can you explain your thinking?” or “I can see this issue means a lot to you. Help me understand your viewpoint.” Approaching differences with an open and willing mindset leads to meaningful connections.
  •  Catch yourself when a judgmental thought arises and reframe it. For example, instead of “That idea will never work,” try “There may be challenges to overcome with that approach. I’m curious to explore solutions.” Look for the kernel of truth in what others say instead of searching for flaws. 
  • The more you practice being genuinely curious about others, the less condescending and judgmental you’ll become. You’ll find yourself developing a deeper understanding of people and building better relationships. Letting go of preconceptions and the need to be right opens you up to learning and growth.

Curiosity is a profoundly human quality. By nurturing your own curiosity about others, you nurture your humanity. Condescension isolates, but empathy and understanding unite. Make the choice to embrace curiosity over judgment.

10. Be Open to Learning From Others

To stop acting condescending, you need to open your mind to learning from others. Even if you think you know it all, you don’t. Everyone has something valuable to teach you. Pay attention to what others say and be willing to consider different perspectives. Ask follow up questions to make sure you understand their point of view fully. Try rephrasing what they said in your own words to confirm you have grasped the meaning.

Rather than immediately dismissing ideas that differ from your own or that you don’t fully understand, keep an open and inquisitive mind. Do some research to determine if there are any merits to the alternative viewpoints before passing judgment. You may find your stance softening or even changing.

No one knows everything. There are always opportunities to expand your knowledge and understanding. Be humble enough to recognize that you have more to learn. Take an interest in learning from people who think differently than you or who have different life experiences. Their insights can help round out your education in valuable ways.

Don’t assume you have nothing to gain from interacting with or listening to others. Everyone is on their own journey, with a unique set of knowledge and skills that can benefit you. Pay attention to the subtle lessons around you each day. Look for the wisdom in what others say and apply it to your own situation.

Continuous learning and improving yourself are life-long endeavors. Maintain an openness to gaining new knowledge and perspectives from all sources. You’ll become wiser and less condescending as a result. A thirst for learning, coupled with humility and openness, are the antidotes to an attitude of superiority over others. Embrace opportunities to expand your mind – you’ll be glad you did.


So there you have it – a few simple ways to check that superiority complex and start treating people with basic human decency. Nobody likes a know-it-all. And while you may think your accomplishments make you better than others, they don’t. We all have inherent worth and value that goes beyond status, money, education level, or other superficial measures of a person.

At the end of the day, we’re all in this crazy thing called life together. The sooner we realize we have more in common than not and start lifting each other up instead of putting each other down, the better off we’ll all be. Now go spread some kindness; we could all use more of it.


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