A snide comment from a friend hurts.

How to Handle Snide Remarks From a Friend

by MollyAnne Cerreta Smith

When a friend makes an unkind remark, it hurts. By putting the remark into context, understanding why it was made and forgiving the occasional snide comment, the friendship can move forward. But if snide comments continue, it may be best to move on from a negative friendship.

Give Her the Benefit of the Doubt

Perhaps the snide comment was made in jest. Consider that your friend was distracted, or maybe you are oversensitive about the subject. Regardless of how the comment was intended, give your friend the benefit of the doubt. In a Psychology Today article, Raj Raghunathan, associate professor of marketing at The McCombs School of Business, University of Texas, Austin, says that the "tendency to attribute other people's behaviors to stable personality traits, rather than to situation forces, is quite common and is referred to in psychology as the fundamental attribution error." He adds, "Thus, when someone does not return your smile, you assume that he is rude, rather than that he is preoccupied or that he did not see your smile." Give your friend the benefit of the doubt. Maybe the comment was not meant to be hurtful.

Consider the Situation

If the friend who made the rude comment is a workplace colleague, superior or subordinate, perhaps she was trying to be objective. A study of workplace friendships gone bad, published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, found that a primary factor in these rifts occurred when a co-worker did not live up to "friendly" expectations. In the article, the study's leader, University of Arizona business professor Patricia Sias, who holds a doctorate in organizational communication, suggests making expectations clear and applying the rules equally to everyone in the workplace.

Forgive and Be Happy

While it may be awkward to take a stand against the friend who is making snide comments, directly addressing the conflict leads to resolution, forgiveness and, ultimately, your happiness. In a Psychotherapy Networker article, author Ryan Howes writes that "people who forgive show lower levels of depression, anxiety and anger, enjoy better relationships, and report higher levels of optimism and happiness."

Find a Friend That Doesn't Cause Stress

When a friend makes a rare snide remark, it is okay to forgive her. It is quite another thing to be on the receiving end of rude comments by that friend time and again. A solid friendship should cause happiness and has been proven to have actual health benefits. A 2000 UCLA study showed that having a circle of friends provides a woman with an alternative to the fight-or-flight response to stress. In the study, researchers showed that when women gather with other women, they release more oxytocin, which has calming effects. Letting go of negative friendships can lead to happiness and less stress.

About the Author

MollyAnne Cerreta Smith has more than 15 years of experience as an editor and writer in print and online media. She regularly contributes to online publication SheKnows.com, where she shares her parenting (and other!) insights with thousands of readers and writes for other local print and online publications as well.

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