Sometimes it happens to me that I am having a conversation with some acquaintance that gets a bit out of hand or unpleasant due to a random comment.

Say I am meeting a friend of a friend. I may say something and he may disdain it in a way that is not plainly rude, but at least out of tone:

- Me: Nice to meet you.
- New friend: Nice to meet you, blah blah.
- (...)
- Me: So I like programming.
- New friend: Oh, that's a loss of time. What I like doing is...

There is a minor lapse of time in which you get the feeling that that sentence was not appropriate and I want to express my displeasure about it, but if I don't do it fast enough, it will sound out of topic.

What I usually do is to ironically smile and say What?, but I feel that it somehow lacks information for the other to notice that it was not a polite way to approach a new friend.

Is there any "key sentence" or physical movement to approach these situations, making the point clear that such comments are not appropriate, while keeping the conversation in a friendly tone?

  • What's displeasing here? is it your lack of talking space?
    – user20
    Jun 28, 2017 at 17:00
  • @tuskiomi two things: 1) the assumption that an unfriendly remark can be done just out of the blue, and 2) that this is done in a way that leaves little margin to react and discuss.
    – fedorqui
    Jun 29, 2017 at 10:11
  • What country is this in?
    – user288
    Aug 19, 2017 at 23:05
  • @Hamlet Southern Europe.
    – fedorqui
    Aug 23, 2017 at 17:23
  • 1
    @curiousdannii I'm not an European. Do you believe the culture between southern europe countries makes the answer any different?
    – Vylix
    Aug 28, 2017 at 4:26

9 Answers 9


@Crafter has excellent points, but I would just like to add that if you do cock your head to one side and put on a puzzled or surprised look, you can also come back to that point later in the conversation.

Say, earlier you mentioned that you thought programming was a waste of time. What makes you feel that way?

That said, the best is if you can get in the word edgewise, as they say. And Crafter is absolutely right: if you can't iron out the issues, this may not be the best friend for you.


You can always try a visual suggestion, such as a raised eyebrow(s) or widening of eyes, which will show the sentence has had some effect on you. If they notice you can tell them that you didn't really appreciate what they said, or perhaps just mention that that is just their opinion, and for many, it isn't a waste of time.

You can also interrupt him after he's said what he said, perhaps by going "whoa" or "umm" or some other word or phrase that shows that you didn't like what he said.

However it's also worth noting that maybe they might not be a good friend for you, if both of you have a distaste for each other's interests, then you might find it difficult to make conversation, so don't force yourself into an awkward conversation all the time just because you're "friends".


“Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man.”

— The Dude, The Big Lebowski (1998).

It's definitely impolite, taken out of context.

I respond in such fun fashion to friends closest to me and are movie buffs like I am.

And then wait for them to ask "what?" and then give them my actual response or counter argument.

Do not attempt this on others.


You can make some actions in body language to let him know you didn't agree with that.

Give a doubtful look at him and if he ask you what, then tell him Why you say so? I didn't think like that and so on.

Or, you can say that It is from your point of view, which I disagree completely.

The first one is good but based on situations, you can go for the second one too


In addition to the other answers, just wanted to mention some things...

I have a few former friends like this. Nothing I said or did would elicit a positive comment or a compliment. After dealing with this sort of thing from almost everything I said and did with them, I eventually decided to stop spending time with them and remove them from social media. These people were not depressed, just negative and selfish.

These friends made me feel bad about myself, and made me not want to be around them. Does this person make you feel happy? If not, maybe you should keep them out of your life. Maybe they're a fun, pleasant person in temperament. Maybe you have a lot in common and enjoy spending time with them in spite of their negativity.

If they need support and have depression, they might appreciate a friendly shoulder. Whatever the source of the negativity, you can't change a person's mindset on your own. You can support them as a friend, but ultimately you might have to walk away if it's causing you problems in your own life.

Some articles that support my claims :

Psych Today : Dealing with negative people.

Daily Mail: Depression is contagious


I have two ways of slowing the other person and ventilating a conversation when the other is showering me with unworthy words and doesn't let me plug something.

I would cut off and start off with "Umm, Yes and No". It means nothing, yet it means everything. Usually you can break a person's monologue with that. Perfect to throw a curveball, break away from the notion that there is only one right answer, and give a counter-opinion.

Then, you probably know he's going to start blabbering shortly after you finish you sentence. That's why I pull a Trump-style repeat your last 4 words a second time. E.g. "And that's why there's a lot of code to write. A Lot of code to write". Usually that stops them from re-embarking right away because they didn't expect that 2nd repetition and breaks their momentum, it gives a moment of silence after you finished your sentence and perhaps you can plug another one too before they start talking again.

That's how I ventilate those painful conversations, and plug some sentences of my own.

  • 2
    That's a clever way to do it! A very clever way to do it.
    – fedorqui
    Aug 10, 2017 at 7:54

Say I am meeting a friend of a friend.

That's a random nobody. You don't care about them.

Me: So I like programming. New friend: Oh, that's a loss of time. What I like doing is...

Listen to their tripe. Then give them the googly eyes. "So you don't like intellectual chalenges?" (let the silence draw on for three seconds as it sinks in).


It does depend on whether you are seeking further interaction with them.

If not, one response might be to roll your eyes and walk away. If they take exception to this (presuming of course that they give you the opportunity to respond to their expression of this), comment that you would have excused yourself, but that they gave you no opportunity so to do. If they take exception and don't give you the chance to explain, raise your voice slightly and cut them off by saying "Leave me alone" and then backing off further or turning your back - if you feel safe to do this. If you need to take the further measures, it would probably be a good idea to apologise to the mutual friend, particularly if they witnessed it.

If you do need to have further interaction with them, of course, it might be necessary to be more diplomatic, but all things being equal, I would say that you don't need to go out of your way to spare the feeling of someone who shows no consideration for yours.


You don't actually need to address it.

Keep in mind that, if you patiently listen to them talk smack about your work (with real interest, not sarcasm, and without rushing to disagree), you will come off as the party who is secure in their own view. That carries a lot of authority, and does not require any conflict.

If you show real interest, and don't rush to contradict them, they may feel it too. It's difficult to disparage someone's occupation when they are simply listening to you with interest. It reminds them that the things they are saying are really just opinions, and that you don't necessarily see it the same way. If they then ask what you think, you can tell them how you see it, and potentially have a fun conversation. If they don't, it's ok. They'll get there sometime.

The tough thing is to avoid sarcasm, eye-rolling, clownish facial expressions, etc. It's a normal knee-jerk reaction, and it can feel pretty good in the moment - but the best thing here is to be nice and genuinely interested in what they think. It's difficult, but it is what marks you as the adult to everyone around.

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