How to Deal With Friends Who Like to Put You Down

Confronting the behavior directly may put it to an end.
... Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images

One thing is for sure -- not all friends are created equally. While some enjoy insulting your tastes and pursuits in private, others look forward to humiliating you in front of groups. The behavior can not only be grating, but also a blow to your self-esteem. Fortunately, there are several ways to cope with a friend who is eager to try out a new insult.

1 Thinking Ahead

Before you bring the issue up with your friends, think about the specific putdowns that have bothered you. Were their words misinterpreted as a putdown? Does this happen regularly, or has it happened once? While you may forgive and forget a one time or occasional incident, an ongoing pattern of insults should be addressed, according to PBS Kids. This time can also be an opportunity to assess your own behavior. If you feel that comments to your friends are being misinterpreted as attacks, or that your friends' putdowns begin after a disagreement, bring these up when you talk to friends. You might say, "I feel that I upset you when I disagreed with you about your fight with Mark." This can give each of you the chance to resolve a past hurt.

2 Speaking Out

The next time your pals make comments at your expense, address it directly and immediately, suggests Signe Whitson, author of "The Angry Smile: The Psychology of Passive Aggressive Behavior in Families, Schools, and Workplaces." You might calmly say, "It seems to me that you are upset with me about something." If you choose to confront your friends long after a particular incident, arrange a calm time and speak to each person individually. Bring up the specific comments that were made and how they made you feel.

3 The Aftermath

A variety of responses may surface after you confront the behavior of your friends -- some may agree and apologize. Others may deny any wrongdoing. Still others may not only disagree that their comments are hurtful, but also make accusations against you in the process. Consider what they say -- perhaps your words are also being construed as attacks. Issuing a sincere apology, and reassuring your friends that you will be more careful about how you speak in the future, can go a long way in repairing a rift caused by putdowns.

4 Moving On

The putdowns may come to a close after a direct confrontation -- but in other cases, they may continue despite your best efforts. If the putdowns are meant to be jokes, consider whether you can accept a friendship in which that behavior is ongoing. If the jokes continue damaging your self-esteem or leave you dreading spending time with your friends, ending the friendships may be in your best interest.

Candice Coleman worked in the public school system as a middle school and high school substitute teacher. In addition to teaching, she is also a tutor for high school and college students.