One way to feel smart is to pursue a lifetime of learning. But that's a lot of work. An easier method is to make the people around you appear dumber. I'll share with you some tricks for making your friends, coworkers, family members, and spouses (your victims) look and feel like morons.

1.      When your victim makes any statement of fact or opinion, look at him as if he's wearing a turd for a hat. Repeat what he said, but slowly, as if you're prompting him to see how stupid he is on his own.

2.      After your victim utters a statement of any kind, slowly shake your head in the "no" direction and make a dismissive sound such as "pffft." When challenged to explain your reaction, insist there is no problem, but do so unconvincingly.

3.      Pounce on your victim's every mispronunciation, misspelling, and poor choice of words like a hobo on a ham sandwich. Make sure you dwell long enough on your GOTCHA moment that it creates a lasting memory. (If people try the same trick on you, dismiss them as pedantic.)

4.      When confronted with a new but minor task, such as opening an unfamiliar container, most people require a few seconds of thinking and perhaps a failed attempt or two before they work out a solution. If you see someone in this state, grab the object out your victim's hand and try whatever solutions have not yet been tried, thus making you the successful container opener and your victim the failed container opener.

5.      Continuously instruct your victim to do whatever you think he or she is likely to do on his own anyway, e.g. "Don't step in that puddle." If you do it often enough it creates the illusion that the victim can't navigate the simplest obstacles in life without adult supervision.

6.      Ask your victim to remember details that no normal human could be expected to recall, such as the exact wording of a conversation that happened a month ago. This method can also be used to frame your victim as a liar.

7.      Ask your victim to remind you to do a future task. Pick a time for your request when the victim is distracted or can't write a note to himself, such as when he or she is driving or swimming. Later, after you remember on your own to do the task, remind your victim of his forgetfulness.

8.      Give your victim vague and unintelligible instructions such as "Can you go find the thing I put in the (mumble)?" When your victim fails to find the object, go directly to the correct drawer, produce the object you want, hold it high like Excalibur, and give a victory TA-DA!

9.      Steer conversations away from topics you know little about and toward topics your victim knows little about. If the victim tries the same trick on you, excuse yourself to make a phone call.

10.   Ask your victim to do a minor task for you. After he or she agrees, add a layer of complexity that will guarantee failure. The initial request might be something simple such as "pick up something from the store." The extra layer of complexity is that the item doesn't exist in this dimension.

That's a starter list. You might have some tips of your own to add.
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Aug 12, 2011
I've seen husbands do this to wives and vice versa, but the worst offender is the parent who treats a child this.
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 5, 2011
You MAY have some tips of your own to add.
+5 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 2, 2011
If the victim mounts a successfull comeback and is in danger of proving you to be petty and small minded say "Well, you have all the answers, don't you!" Thus you make being right a problem in itself.

Married? Yes. Happily? ...
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 2, 2011
I see that you're married.
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 1, 2011
@dingbat I agree, well said.

The title of this blog should be "How to be a sociopath" or "How to get someone to spend less time with you"
Aug 1, 2011

I don't blog, but I'm flattered you ask. I waste enough time on Scott's blog.

Actually, I also discovered (through this blog) that the Huffington Post community has real discussions - so I've started checking that out and contributing there in recent weeks (under my real-life farm name, DozyGoats).

That's pretty much it.
+10 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 1, 2011
@ Drazen

"who'd ever want to be signed up for a lifetime of being put upon with this psuedo-intelligent, passive-aggressive b.s.? It sounds like a recipe for total misery to me."

No one should have to live that way, but just because it crops up in a relationship, doesn't mean your choices are to put up with it or exercise the nuclear option.

Obviously the best thing is for two people to behave in a respectful, supportive manner towards each other from the beginning. The problem is that the people who are 10's in terms of their ability to handle relationships well, tend to marry the other 10's. The rest of us have to figure things out on our own.

Here is what I have learned in 22 years of what has sometimes been a very challenging marriage:

1. You have to grow up first. It may be a cliche, but it is true. You have no control over the other person's behavior, only your own. If you are too passive, it could mean growing a spine and standing up for yourself. If you are too controlling, angry, etc. it could mean working on your self control.

2. Don't manipulate. Don't retaliate. Resorting to those tactics is like trying to *fix* a rotted, load-bearing beam with an axe. Replace the dam beam.

3. Show respect. Require respect. If you find yourself rolling your eyes, zinging your partner in conversation or otherwise putting him or her down, you are in trouble. Stop. If you can't respect this person, you should do them a favor and end the relationship. No one should have to live with someone who does not respect them. If you are being disrespected, calmly lay down the law. "Don't talk to me that way." "Do not treat me that way." If they don't stop, distance yourself until they decide whether they care enough to change. If they don't - then you do need to leave... You can't force someone to respect you. You can let them know that it is not optional if the relationship is to survive.

4. Understand your boundaries. You have the right to make decisions about your life. Your partner has the right to his or her own choices. You make not like the other person's hobbies, friends, clothes, food choices, etc, but those are not your choices to make. You can express your opinion - and if there are certain (reasonable) things you just can't live with - you can make that clear - but recognize that you are not in charge of most of your partner's personal decisions. Make your own friends, find your own hobbies. Share the parts of your lives that you want to share but respect the fact that you also have separate lives.

5. Recognize your shared responsibilities. If you are partners, even though you do have your own lives, you also need to contribute to the partnership equally. One partner should not be dumping all the work, stress, etc. on the other. This is also an issue of respect. People do not take advantage of people they love and respect.

None of this is easy. No one is going to work hard to develop the self-control, or self-esteem necessary to save a relationship unless they really care about the other person. If you do care, it is worth it. There were plenty of times I was ready to walk away from my marriage. It seemed totally unfixable. Decades later, however, we realized we've actually grown up quite a lot and are happy we are still together. We still have issues - but nothing that makes either of us want to bolt for the exits.

(Although I have to confess I am a bit worried about retirement. I told my husband one time, that while I in no way wanted to impinge on his right to choose where to work, if he were to choose to work from home, I would probably choose to become an alcoholic. We do still have some work left to do...)
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 1, 2011
Not sure where my original comment went, especially since it was highly up-voted and essentially matched what several others later said, but let's try this again, with elaboration.

This list sounds like the inner workings of a completely dysfunctional relationship. Items #5, #7, and #8 specifically remind me of a woman trying to use manipulation to gain the upper hand.

The solution? Call their ass out. The last person who tried #5 on me (trying to remind me to bring a jacket to the ocean at night in May, in a temperate climate) - I ridiculed their suggestion as so obvious to be useless. #8, attack their "organization system" as absurd (since in these cases it almost always is). #7, have a smartphone and insist all instructions be in writing (organizable) rather than voicemail / off-hand conversation. If they complain, point out that they are choosing to communicate with you in a manner which you are most likely to forget.

It'll piss them off beyond holy hell, but at least you'll have a pair. Then again, it might not work out so well if you're, say, a wealthy cartoonist with a shaky pre-nup.

It's tactics like the ones you listed here that make me skeptical about ever marrying; if I catch a whiff of them early on, there's no way in hell I'll trust the person, and who'd ever want to be signed up for a lifetime of being put upon with this psuedo-intelligent, passive-aggressive b.s.? It sounds like a recipe for total misery to me.
Aug 1, 2011
@Dingbat - Do you blog? If yes, and if you don't mind, please share the link.
Jul 31, 2011
very well said. I always enjoy your comments, they are very well thought out.
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 31, 2011

"I've found that one of the greatest gifts you can give another is to make them feel better about themselves... Having said that, I still rarely practice praising others and find it uncomfortable to do so...I find genuine compliments very hard to deliver."

One of the best compliments you can pay to someone is to show genuine interest in their lives and ideas. Ironically, this also makes you appear smarter than you are. I've been called "brilliant" twice in my life by two different, smart, accomplished men - who rarely let me get a word in edgewise in any conversation. One might ask on what grounds they are assessing my intelligence? The only thing they really know about me is that I am interested in what they have to say.

Open ended questions, like "what do you like to do in your spare time?" or "are you working on anything interesting right now?" can give you a chance to draw out someone's personality and interests - and make the conversation enjoyable for both of you. Also - sometimes the most interesting person in the room is the one standing alone in back clearly wishing he or she were somewhere else. The right questions can brighten the whole event for both of you.
Jul 30, 2011
@ isonno

I laughed and my blood pressure went down.
Jul 30, 2011
Wow! A lot of people seem to think you're really talking about an actual situation that is happening between you and your wife. While I see a lot of my wife in there, particularly in #5 and #7, I think you were actually giving a veiled example of how we tend to react to our spouse.

In the old days (like the 1970's), a new subset of psychiatry was proposed called "transactional analysis" (TA). As I understood it, the basic idea was that people had a tendency to slip into rote interactions (called "games") rather than express their feelings and needs directly. It proposed that there were three levels of our personality that governed how we communicated in certain situations: parent, child, and adult. When we talked (so the theory went), as a parent to a child and the other person responded the same way, the transaction "crossed," and a game commenced.

Each of the ten "ideas" (which are really defined interactions that avoid direct communication) represent games. Take #5 (since I mentioned it - as a reminder, it's to constantly tell someone to not do something they obviously should be able to figure out for themselves): this is a parent-child transaction. Mommye has to tell little Johnny not to cross the street without looking both ways. Not-so-little Johnny, then acting like a petulant child, snaps back at "mommy" saying, in effect, "Johnny big boy. Johnny know how to cross street! Wah!!!"

In TA, the answer to how to get out of game playing was simple: stop playing the game. When mommy tells you not to step in the puddle, you respond, "I'm a competent adult, and don't need instruction on basic things. It upsets me when you do it, and makes it so I may ignore it if you really have some valid input on a more complex issue, which means we both lose. Please don't do that any more. I know this has become a habit, so I'll do my best to help you break it. Let's work on it together, so we'll both be happier."

If the other person then says, "Screw you, you incompetent boob," or something similar, then you smile and walk away. Refuse to play the game, and the game will stop.

On a related note (you know I'm big on politics and government), revisit #5 in light of how government treats us. It tells us that they're the final authority on everything we should do: how much water our toilets must have; what kind of light bulb we must buy; why we are incompetent to spend the money we earn and so must give it to mommy government to keep us from wasting it. And it works. For them, that is; not for us.

In this blog, I once posted something along the lines of how government needed to spend less to reduce our debt and defecit. One person responded to me that it wasn't that simple, because if it was, then the geniuses in government would be doing it. So it must be a lot more complex than reducing spending.

No, it's not. It's just that simple. But government has convinced at least this person that balancing the budget is such a complex and arcane task that even the Brightest Minds In The World (those in government, and if you believe that, then I have a bridge I'd like to sell you) aren't able to work out a solution to such a challenging issue. Balderdash.

We need to stop treating our spouses as though they're our parents, and do the same with our government. Collectively, there is no way that 400-some-odd elected lawyers are smarter than 300 million or so people who pay their paychecks.

So think about this, folks, both personally and in the larger context. And thanks again, Scott, for a post with a lot of hidden underlying meaning.
Jul 30, 2011
Looks as if we all have issues in relationships, work or home. We all need to know how to constructively deal with them and try not to degrade things further.
+10 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 30, 2011
Making assumptions about what is behind this post is probably a very bad idea, but I'm going to do it anyway - because the wisdom I am about to impart is dam(n) good on its own merits.

If it doesn't apply to Scott, there is a possibility it will be relevant to at least one other reader.

I don't know you, Scott, personally, but I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that you might possibly be a bit aggressive in defense of your ideas. You are a smart guy, brilliant even, and you see patterns and absurdities in the world that others miss. You also challenge things that most people take for granted. All of that is great, but I can imagine that it might also be hard to live with.

I can also imagine someone who is unable to "win" an argument with you in a fair fight, turning to other tactics to preserve his or her self esteem. If you are irritated, it is working.

So the question is this: Is the other person someone you care about? If so, you need to address this. This kind of thing never gets better on its own. There are a couple of options. One is to stop talking about things you disagree about. If only a few issues provoke this kind of behavior, that might work. On the other hand, it can lead, over time, to having nothing to say to each other. Not good.

The better option is to figure out why you are hurting each other and stop. Every conversation you have, every interaction is an opportunity to build the relationship up or tear it down. Destruction is always the easiest course. All you have to do is ignore problems, let them fester and let nature take its course. Building takes effort, planning, and sometimes, outside help.

Only you can decide whether you care enough about the relationship to make the effort to change the patterns. It isn't about giving in to the other person. It is about figuring out what you are each doing that is hurting the other and making a deliberate decision to change. It is not easy, but it can be done.

This is a gross generalization I realize, but for everyone who says this sounds just like their wife:

Women who are angry (even if they are expressing it childishly) are at least still engaged in the relationship. It is when they suddenly become passive and agreeable (in the absence of any other change) that you have to worry. They may very well have given up at that point and are on their way out.
Jul 30, 2011
The fact that these ten "victimization strategies" make us think of wives is an interesting comment on how utterly toxic women have become. Persistently nagging, shrill, hysterical, petty, and unaccountable. They seem to exhibit these traits with about the exact same frequency as men exhibit macho competitiveness, which the feminists never stop reminding us about. Men have learned to curb some of their impulses, whereas women haven't.
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 30, 2011
After 35 years of marriage, I find the best way to abort any attempts by my spouse to put down my intelligent is to just completely, clearly, and obviously ignore her existence for that period of time. That way if I am attempting to do something and she is suggesting the obvious, it is clear I had the same thought. And if I find a different solution, it shows her suggestion was just a major distraction. It also helps to aggressively screech the car over to the side of the road and just grab the map from her hand...without saying anything.
+5 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 30, 2011
Sounds like the honeymoon is over... Welcome to married life!
Another technique that is often employed against me is comparing a current minor mistake with an old major one, even though they have absolutely no similarities. For example: "You forgot to bring milk from the store. This is just like the time when you invested all our savings in what turned out to be a ponzi scheme". This allows for an enormous amount of fury to be unleashed which is totally disproportionate to the current offence committed.
Jul 30, 2011
My wife does all of these to me all the time.
+18 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 29, 2011
I do not spend time with people who behave that way. If I am forced to do so, I !$%*! as many boundaries around the relationship as necessary to preserve my sanity. I have relatives who probably sincerely believe I have never had an independent or intelligent thought - because I have never expressed one to them. All they get is a lot of smiling, faked interest and frequent references to my need to leave soon.

I choose to spend time with people I enjoy, who are supportive of me and who make me feel like a better person. I do not spend time with people who leave me feeling drained, exhausted and vaguely insulted. I like people who challenge my thinking. I do not like people who see conversation as a competitive sport.

When my husband starts in with the instruction to take the obvious course of action and other annoying spouse behaviors and calling him on it doesn't work, my backup strategy is to make the experience as unpleasant as possible for him. I ask for exhaustive details, for example. I make a much bigger deal out of it (calmly and pleasantly) than necessary - until I've taken all the satisfaction out of it for him.

That works for me. In general I believe in dealing with obnoxious behavior head on - if it is coming from a close friend or family member. If that doesn't work and I give them less space in my life - to minimize their opportunities to play games with me. If it is someone I don't want to push out, I don't retaliate. That never accomplishes anything. I want to solve the problem and stop the behavior - not create new issues. I just try to remove any reward the other person gets out of their approach.

If my spouse was suddenly turning mean and petty - I'd have it out with him. I'd be sure he understood that living with me *and* behaving that way was not an option. If there were other issues to deal with, I'd be willing to deal with those issues. I would not be willing to live with passive aggressive insults.

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