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How to defend against condenscending comment

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Howdy guys 🙂

So there are condenscending comments I face with my relatives. For context: my dad is a self-made millionaire, coming from extreme poverty. As a result, he's known and respected for his entrepreneurial abilities among our relatives.

Now, there's this weird annoying trend where my relatives never fail to let me know that I don't have the same edge as my dad. But it's extremely subtle, mostly conveyed in tone.

Given the strained relationship I have with my dad, I avoid dealing with him concerning business. So I don't have any cool business things I pulled off, in contrast to the other people my dad deal with.

Here's a real example from a few months ago which I think I mishandled.

My dad: "...so then Rick (a cousin of mine) called me up. He said he saw the ad and wanted to buy the car. I sold it to him and he sold it again, making a $1800 profit. This guy knows how to handle affairs,I was impressed, really! (stamp of approval tone)

Annoying aunt: "Wow, that's wonderful. That kid Rick's got something going on for him."

She then turns towards me, and says in a slightly sarcastic tone: "Jimmy, you could have done what Rick did! You'd have had $1800 in your pocket right now.Well, anyway, Rick's got the knack for entrepreneurship. It's not a gift everyone has."

Me: annoyed face and grunt

How I think I should have handled it:

Annoying aunt: "Jimmy, you could have done what Rick did! You'd have had $1800 in your pocket right now. Well, anyway, Rick's got the knack for entrepreneurship. It's not a gift everyone has."

Me: "Yeah, it's an interesting suggestion and one I did consider but it would have been a bad call. Won't get into that right now though, but I'll just it's not only about having an entrepreneurial spirit vs not having one. Although, Rick's a cool lad, good for him!"

I think annoying aunt would not have pursued the matter. And even if my dad didn't agree, he would never contradict me in front of my aunt and would probably back my frame up.

Also I want to point out that even though annoying aunt might seem like she's making an honest suggestion, she's really not. This happens every time and sometimes she will make more obvious comments like "I guess booksmarts aren't all that matter in life", referring to me, who's the academic success in the family.

What do you guys think?

Anon has reacted to this post.
Anon

Hello Jimmy,

what I found helpful in learning this stuff is to label what is happening (categorizing).

That helps in knowing what to do.

In your example I think it’s a judge power move.

She’s using entrepreneurial skills as a measure of your value. So in your second example you did well by removing her power as a judge by questioning the value of having entrepreneurial skills also using a philosopher frame (what is good and what is bad really?).

On top of it you could have turned it to her: what about her entrepreneurial skills?

Basically: who is she to judge you? Do you really care about these skills? Also you can always get better (learner mindset)

So yes, around here there is the mindset proposed by Lucio: you are your own judge.

Lucio Buffalmano, Ali Scarlett and 4 other users have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoAli ScarlettAnonKavalierhan160891leaderoffun

Responding from a location in Jamaica with poor internet connection, I wanted to respond with my quick thoughts before my internet access times out:

Aunt: Jimmy, you could have done what Rick did! You'd have had $1800 in your pocket right now. Well, anyway, Rick's got the knack for entrepreneurship. It's not a gift everyone has.

You: Yeah, you could've done it too (agree + redirect), nothing like having a little extra money in your pocket sometimes (expands on the agreeing to avoid coming across as cofrontational). Me, personally, I have a different philosophy, I believe there are things more important than money (philosopher's frame). And, you're right, not everyone has the knack for entrepreneurship. But, until I give it a shot, we'll never know (smile) (agree + redirect to possibility that you might actually be very good at entrepreneurship—she's jumping to conclusions without evidence—and you're not uninvolved in entrepreneurship because you "don't have the gift" but because you've decided it's not a pursuit you're interested in right now—which thread-expands on your personal power to choose your own path).

Gave John's post a like as well because his advice is solid.

I agree with his analysis and advice on the mental aspect (assessing the labels/frames and judge power dynamics while adopting beliefs of personal empowerment) and I think that this (the above) is a good response on the social side.

Lucio Buffalmano, John Freeman and 5 other users have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoJohn FreemanAnonKavalierhan160891leaderoffunJimmysmith

Yes, I noticed that there are different levels to addressing social situations/skills/power dynamics/self development:

  1. Mindset & Beliefs: I am my own judge
  2. Concepts and Ideas: the judge, etc.
  3. Actions: words to say, body language, etc.

They're all important and complimentary. So I think it's optimal when we use our collective brain and individual perspectives to address the different aspects when answering about a social situation.

Lucio Buffalmano, Anon and Jimmysmith have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoAnonJimmysmith

So I wrote a post with several options that I considered for this situation, but after reading Ali's message I had to admit that his is simply overall superior to all of them. Kind of like straight from a textbook (hint hint :D)

@01ascarlett would you mind sharing what the process/methodology for constructing this response was?

Quote from Ali Scarlett on June 6, 2022, 9:19 pm

Aunt: Jimmy, you could have done what Rick did! You'd have had $1800 in your pocket right now. Well, anyway, Rick's got the knack for entrepreneurship. It's not a gift everyone has.

You: Yeah, you could've done it too (agree + redirect), nothing like having a little extra money in your pocket sometimes (expands on the agreeing to avoid coming across as confrontational). Me, personally, I have a different philosophy, I believe there are things more important than money (philosopher's frame). And, you're right, not everyone has the knack for entrepreneurship. But, until I give it a shot, we'll never know (smile) (agree + redirect to possibility that you might actually be very good at entrepreneurship—she's jumping to conclusions without evidence—and you're not uninvolved in entrepreneurship because you "don't have the gift" but because you've decided it's not a pursuit you're interested in right now—which thread-expands on your personal power to choose your own path).

I think it's very effective because it:

- puts her in her place ("you could've done it too")
- is very smooth ("nothing like having a little extra money in your pocket sometimes")
- rejects the importance of making a profit ("I believe there are things more important than money")
- rejects her claim about you not being a good entrepreneur ("But, until I give it a shot, we'll never know (smile)")

And I agree with John about the importance of your own self perception and acceptance. If your own self worth isn't depending on their approval, they don't have power over your emotions.

Lucio Buffalmano, Ali Scarlett and John Freeman have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoAli ScarlettJohn Freeman

Great answers already.

And for sure she's not making an honest suggestion.

Or even if she was, that still wouldn't make it any less of an annoying (and disempowering) power move.

I'd also find it annoying, so I'd go a bit stronger in my reply.

Building on Ali's suggestion with some added punch to it (and removing the self-defense against her entrepreneurial judgment, which would be buying into her frame and indirectly validating it):

Aunt: Jimmy, you could have done what Rick did! You'd have had $1800 in your pocket right now. Well, anyway, Rick's got the knack for entrepreneurship. It's not a gift everyone has.
You: Rick's awesome (important to avoid a "you VS Rick" frame, both socially/externally and internally/mindset, don't let turkeys spoil your relationships with third parties), you could've done it too (mirror technique, gives her back the same thing), more money is certainly better than less (expands on the agreeing to avoid coming across as cofrontational).
But you know, that doesn't mean one must necessarily put all his efforts into making as much as possiple. People in life have different philosophies. There are those who live to line up more money in their pockets (slight negative frame around "living for money" and "lining up one's pockets", but say it while you look and/or point at her, make sure this is not about Rick but about you and her) and those who are interested in a fuller life that includes intellectual pursuits, arts, literature, advancing society rather than just self-advancement, etc. etc. (stress the "self", might even add "selfish" if you wanna go overboard) 

That's a one-up back.

Her frame:

  • You're a "normal" guy, don't have that killer "make money" instincts

Your frame:

  • You're venal, you don't have a knack for enjoying a fuller life, and none of those those "higher goals" for self-fulfillment and pro-social giving back

My point of view on this is that it's never enjoyable to be dragged into these turkey nasty games.

However, I'm also of the opinion that, often, hitting back is better than just being a punching bag :). Plus, people often stop hitting the punching bag that hits bag, which would be your true end-game goal.

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Ali ScarlettJohn FreemanAnonKavalierhan160891Mats GBelJimmysmith
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And if you want to remove some of the sting, you can bridge like this:

You: But you know, that doesn't mean one must necessarily put all his efforts into making as much as possible. People in life have different philosophies. There are those who live to line up more money in their pockets, which is great and fantastic if that's what they enjoy, and... 

With this difference the new frame is:

"there are those people who chase money, and these other people, me included, for whom money is a smaller part of their life, and neither is superior, and both are fine".

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Quote from John Freeman on June 6, 2022, 7:49 pm

On top of it you could have turned it to her: what about her entrepreneurial skills?

Basically: who is she to judge you? Do you really care about these skills? Also you can always get better (learner mindset)

So yes, around here there is the mindset proposed by Lucio: you are your own judge.

"You are your own judge" is so simple yet so effective. Right on John, thanks!

Quote from Ali Scarlett on June 6, 2022, 9:19 pm

Responding from a location in Jamaica with poor internet connection, I wanted to respond with my quick thoughts before my internet access times out:

Aunt: Jimmy, you could have done what Rick did! You'd have had $1800 in your pocket right now. Well, anyway, Rick's got the knack for entrepreneurship. It's not a gift everyone has.

You: Yeah, you could've done it too (agree + redirect), nothing like having a little extra money in your pocket sometimes (expands on the agreeing to avoid coming across as cofrontational). Me, personally, I have a different philosophy, I believe there are things more important than money (philosopher's frame). And, you're right, not everyone has the knack for entrepreneurship. But, until I give it a shot, we'll never know (smile) (agree + redirect to possibility that you might actually be very good at entrepreneurship—she's jumping to conclusions without evidence—and you're not uninvolved in entrepreneurship because you "don't have the gift" but because you've decided it's not a pursuit you're interested in right now—which thread-expands on your personal power to choose your own path).

Gave John's post a like as well because his advice is solid.

I agree with his analysis and advice on the mental aspect (assessing the labels/frames and judge power dynamics while adopting beliefs of personal empowerment) and I think that this (the above) is a good response on the social side.

This is a killer response! Love all of it, especially the last part on agreeing + redirecting to the possibility that I might be good at it and that she shouldn't jump to conclusions. This totally opened my eyes 🙂

Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on June 7, 2022, 12:01 am

Damn, wish I had joined this forum sooner so I'd have been able to handle those nasty games. Since this aunt has a knack for coming up with the most annoying comments, I'll have my shot at setting my boundaries again.

Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on June 7, 2022, 12:01 am

 

Aunt: Jimmy, you could have done what Rick did! You'd have had $1800 in your pocket right now. Well, anyway, Rick's got the knack for entrepreneurship. It's not a gift everyone has.
You: Rick's awesome (important to avoid a "you VS Rick" frame, both socially/externally and internally/mindset, don't let turkeys spoil your relationships with third parties), you could've done it too (mirror technique, gives her back the same thing), more money is certainly better than less (expands on the agreeing to avoid coming across as cofrontational).
But you know, that doesn't mean one must necessarily put all his efforts into making as much as possiple. People in life have different philosophies. There are those who live to line up more money in their pockets (slight negative frame around "living for money" and "lining up one's pockets", but say it while you look and/or point at her, make sure this is not about Rick but about you and her) and those who are interested in a fuller life that includes intellectual pursuits, arts, literature, advancing society rather than just self-advancement, etc. etc. (stress the "self", might even add "selfish" if you wanna go overboard) 

That's a one-up back.

Her frame:

  • You're a "normal" guy, don't have that killer "make money" instincts

Your frame:

  • You're venal, you don't have a knack for enjoying a fuller life, and none of those those "higher goals" for self-fulfillment and pro-social giving back

 

This response is super helpful. And that's the exact breakdown of her frame and my frame, which I now can understand at a conscious level. Also, the note about not getting into a "me vs Rick" frame is one I only partially saw. It's so important to watch out for those, I've noticed some relatives do that a lot (unfortunately can't completely avoid the family)

The bit on agreeing to come across as less confrontational "more money is better than less" and then switching into the "But you know, that doesn't mean one must necessarily put all his efforts into making as much as possiple. People in life have different philosophies" Picking bits to agree with to avoid the confrontation but still gearing it towards my frame is something I struggle with and now will work on 🙂

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