How to Handle Snide Remarks From a Friend

Snide remarks left unchecked can harm your friendship.
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You expect your friend to have your back and to be the last one to make a nasty, hurtful comment towards you. However, your friend made a snide remark about your weight, your clothing or your significant other, leaving you upset. Handling snide remarks from a friend isn’t easy, but with awareness, calmness and understanding, you can put the remarks behind you.

1 Consider the Intention

Consider the underlying reason for your friend’s snide remark. For example, if your friend said, “Wow, I can’t believe you got those pants zipped up,” consider why she said it. Did your friend intentionally make the comment to insult you? Was she trying to be funny or was she teasing you? Did she blurt it out without thinking? Consider your reaction and if you could be overreacting, feeling touchy or misinterpreting her comment, suggests Diane Gottsman, founder of The Protocol School of Texas and author of “Business Etiquette: How to Handle an Offensive Remark.”

2 It's Not About You

While you probably feel hurt by your friend’s comment, try not to take his snide remarks personally. Some people make mean remarks to others, based on their own insecurities, as a way to make them feel better about themselves, says Gottsman. For instance, your friend might say, "I can't believe you drive this old car," because he is feeling insecure about something in his life. However, this does not mean that you have to let your friend’s comments slide.

3 Talk With Your Friend

Approach your friend when you are calm and have your thoughts collected. Be direct and ask her what she met by the remark. Doing so allows you to gain control over the situation and requires your friend to justify her comment, says Joni E. Johnston, a licensed clinical psychologist and author of “Don’t Patronize Me: How to Handle Condescending Remarks from a Coworker and How Not to Set Yourself Up.” Holding her accountable can help prevent her from making snide comments in the future.

4 Set Appropriate Boundaries

When your friend does something that makes you feel uneasy, that’s an indication that he is violating a boundary, says psychologist Dana Gionta, quoted in the article “10 Ways to Build and Preserve Better Boundaries.” If his snide comments are making you uncomfortable, he is crossing a boundary, and that is not acceptable. Tell your friend that you will not tolerate snide remarks from him. If your friend doesn’t respect your boundaries, you may want to consider ending your friendship.

Stacey Elkins is a writer based in Chicago. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and a Masters in social work from the University of Illinois in Chicago, where she specialized in mental health.