How to Survive an Encounter With a Snob and Why Etiquette Is Not Just for Snobs

3. February 2020

Where exactly do snobs come from? According to our linguist and populizer, František Jílek, some claim that in old English aristocratic circles, the term snob was appended to the names of pupils whose parents were not aristocrats, as an abbreviation taken from the Latin prepositional phrase sine nobilitate, which means without noble origin. Another theory suggests that the word comes from the Scottish snab, which was first recorded in the 18th century and means a cobbler or his apprentice. Around this time, the word was adopted by students at Cambridge. Originally, it did not refer to persons without a title or of simple origin, but generally to anyone who was not a student.

A succinct etymological dictionary, written by Josef Holub and Stanislav Lyer, claims that “the word snob in English means dumb city-dweller, or riff-raff”. It was typical of the non-nobles, those that were not high-born, functioning in the aristocratic environment that they tried to resemble their noble colleagues, acting as if they were just as educated, cultured, and refined. And this has endured until today. Today’s snob mimics the external symbols of the lives of the people he looks up to and among which he would like to belong, even though he or she usually doesn’t have the means.

To be honest, before starting to work on this project, I moved in the circles of the financial and political elite, where it was truly difficult to avoid snobs, so I have a wealth of experience with this type of pretentiousness. They always tried to make me feel like they were the center of the universe, and I should honor their values and rules. Well, that was something for me and my free-thinking soul! Regardless of your social or economic status, in my opinion there is absolutely no reason to become a snob. After all, one of the most important rules of refined behavior is respect for others, while snobs do exactly the opposite. So, there’s sufficient proof that etiquette is definitely not just for snobs.

How to Recognize a Snob

A snob usually dresses in brand-name clothes from head to toe, whether or not these suit them, rides around in a luxury car, eats at fancy restaurants, keeps a modern breed of dog, is constantly name dropping, listens to trendy music and likes to be seen with someone very, very famous. Snobs avoid anyone who suffers from a lack of money or has an insignificant social status in their eyes to avoid accidentally spoiling their own image. He or she longs to be admired by others, and is not very reliable. They will always prefer a path will benefit them, regardless of others. A snob is generally understood to be a very superficial individual and can be found almost anywhere. Resisting one is challenging, but if you get into a whole snobbish group and there’s no way to avoid them, it’s undoubtedly a trial by fire, and a test of the strength of your character and self-confidence.

How to Deal with Them

You have several options:

  • Mainly, do not allow yourself to feel inferior. A snob has one tried and true weapon, and that evoking a feeling of inferiority on your part, because he or she is something more or has something more than you. If a snob, therefore, intuits that although you wear a cheaper watch or drive a worse car, it has no effect on your self-confidence, and his or her reliable practices do not apply to you, he or she will prefer to quickly move on.
  • You can also clearly indicate that you find their behavior unacceptable. Maybe you will thus show them kindness and they will finally realize that they are not the gods they make themselves out to be. But rather, count on the fact that your example will throw them off balance, and you will face a conflict.
  • If you want to take a more conciliatory tack, ignore their behavior. Perhaps they won’t enjoy it and conclude that you are a “lost” case. It’s win/win.
  • Another variant may be to kill them with kindness. If a snob feels that you are kind and polite to them, regardless of how they treat you, he can spend a few minutes of his life in pretense and, exceptionally, catch your wave of kind and decent behavior.
  • The simplest advice is: whenever possible, try to diplomatically avoid certain topics that could be inflammatory for both sides, and even those that usually only lead to bragging. If you must be in the presence of such a person every day, don’t hesitate to interrupt the conversation whenever you need it. Politely excuse yourself, saying you need to make a call or take a restroom break, giving you at least a short-term distance.

Do not forget that snobbery is not your problem. Therefore, never change your own behavior to ingratiate yourself with snobs. Realize that you are a unique being just like them. Try to find people’s good traits, even in snobs. Maybe the snob is just jealous of certain qualities you possess, so he or she has the need to humiliate you to make himself feel better. Keep in mind that snobs very often use this kind of behavior to protect themselves from their own insecurities. They demean others because they themselves lack the necessary self-confidence, and often feel threatened. Moreover, if this is the way they have been brought up and they don’t know any better, it’s hard to be angry with them for it, but rather they deserve your sympathy.

We should instill respect for others in our children regardless of social status or financial background. Not to humiliate others in private or public. To recognize other people’s achievements and be prepared to confidently face any gross commentary on themselves or their surroundings. The more children that are raised this way, the greater the chance that snobs will become the minority and our children will not have to waste time or energy on them in the future.