The definition of belittlement is to treat someone as less than. This is something that happens all day, every day to a lot of people. How do you treat your waitress? How about the cashier? It’s an easy, and apparently gratifying thing for many people to engage in. But, even though belittling others is designed to make you look superior to them, what does it really say about the person who engages in it? What I really want to talk about is how in your interpersonal relationships people really have to understand that just because someone is family, it doesn’t mean that the usual rules of engagement go out the window.
There is one person in my immediate family who has this habit of sitting and doodling wavy lines on a piece of paper whenever I open my mouth to say something. Needless to say, I don’t often speak when he is around. Instead, he speaks and I listen. My assumption is that my role in our relationship is to listen to him and keep my mouth shut. At least that is what our relationship has devolved to. Does this make me want to spend any time with him? No, of course not. However, whenever I get upset about his behavior, I remind myself that this way of behaving says a lot more about him than it does about me.
Being part of a community, no matter how large (or small), means that respect has to be shown as well as given. One person can’t insist on respect while at the same time denying it to others. There must be a mutual way of behaving, or any kind of communication will fail. Has this behavior been directed at you? Have you dealt with it, or have you just ignored it? I understand that when one is in an inferior position (such as a waitress or cashier) there is really nothing to do but ignore this behavior. However, when it occurs in a social (or family) relationship, how do you deal with it? Let me know in the comments below.