Prickers incorporated


The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that there indeed are some people who derive great happiness or at least satisfaction from putting others down. It makes them feel slightly superior and gives them a strange, sadistic kind of satisfaction, perhaps because they feel inadequate in many ways. It does not make their actions excusable though, nor condonable. I call these people the ‘Prickers’.

Often, what they say is very cleverly disguised and you are left wondering whether they actually meant it as a put down or whether they said it casually. If you bring it up, they would probably brush it aside, saying that you are over-reacting, and of course it was not meant to hurt. But the fact is it leaves you feeling a little unhappy, a little less than what you were. The best way to judge whether or not it is a put down is to pay attention to how it made you feel—never mind what the person who said it intended. If you felt bad, or insulted or a little less than what you were, no matter what others say, it is a put-down.

I have had people telling me all kind of things—Of course, they mean well—or at least that is what they want to believe. One time I was feeling on top of the world, wearing a well fitted jeans and a tee, and thought I was looking great. The pricker said “You know what—you should wear low waist jeans. They hide your paunch better.” I was too stunned to say anything at all. Later that night, I stood for at least seven minutes in front of the mirror, examining myself, trying to find a ‘paunch’. Unless asked for an opinion, I never ever comment on dress sense, style or clothes that others wear—because it is something so personal. The clothes you choose indeed reflect ‘who you choose to be’. If someone is comfortable in jeans, t-shirt and high heels, why not let them be? It does not have to be a party to be able to wear your heels. You feel like wearing them for no reason, it is your choice! (Pssst—a good pair of shoes always makes you feel great.) I have had this pricker question me as to why I wear high heels when I am just going to the local supermarket.

In another context when we were discussing something else, someone remarked to me that supplements of the local editions of Times of India don’t really matter, as they don’t have a great circulation. Of course I felt put down as I write for these very supplements, apart from a few other publications. I have got several letters and phone calls from people saying that something I wrote helped them in some way, or saying that it was well –written. It makes me feel happy—and when the pricker mentioned the not-so-great-circulation, I did feel—well-- pricked.

A friend told me that she felt very hurt, when a friend of hers jokingly remarked that the curtains she bought for her new home looked like saree petticoats because they were not pleated. Of course, it was said as a joke. Another time my friend was really happy that her child had done well in school. This pricker, told her not to feel so happy, as it is easy to do well, when the children are in younger classes—the real test comes when they are older.

The point here is that all these remarks are ‘well meant’. No, thank you—I would rather not have these well meant remarks. I am fine. I mind my own business. And I really wish these prickers would mind theirs. But since they don’t, the trick here is to develop a really thick, anti-deflatable hide.


  1. I know a few people of that kind :)

  2. Well Yes P, that's the only solution for such people. But there are times when you would rather give them a piece of your mind, a big one at that!! I am one such person who weares dresses to please myself and I hear such comments almost daily. I'm so used to it now that the words hardly get past my ear drums...Hehehe... Guess I have a hide as strong as steel now!!

  3. Rohit: i really don't know understand why people get so petty.

    Dynamite:Yes--but sometimes, one is too shocked to give it back--or sometimes it comes from a person close to you that you never expect it.

  4. Some of us find fault with others' abilities because of a deep-rooted sense of inferiority, resentful of the things others can do and we ourselves want to, but cannot. Such attempts to trivialize anything may be a cynics delight, and it serves nothing but simply draws attention to one’s own deficiencies. Like you said, in such situations, it is most ideal to develop imperviousness to such insensitive and careless comments.

    But at times we may even misinterpret well-meaning remarks and take it in the ill part. The trick is to check if the remarks made would in anyway prove to be constructive to us. If yes, then it has to be taken in the right sense, and if no, then let it pass. As a writer, you need to bother only about those comments in regards to the quality of your writing, for which your blog itself is a testimony, and needn’t give a care to those frivolous remarks about the circulation part.

    And the comment that one needn’t be so happy in seeing a little child performing well in school simply shows how bad a parent he/she is.

  5. man, i know exactly wht u r talking abt...been pricked a couple of times but the thing is later on my wife had to tell me that i was being pricked, coz iam a lil thick to see it most of the times....i tend to think that its all a joke and no harm was meant...

    but whn u think abt it, theres an intention behind all converstation or if someone cant say something nice, then they got a choice not to say anything...then theres the others who feel that they always have to counter a compliment with an insult...a lil balancing act...funny...

    but i wud like to meet whoever said to u that low waist jeans hides paunch...IT DOESNT! stomach now hangs out of my jean's waist and jiggles everytime i walk....tell her/him tht they owe me 350 dirhams.

  6. so true - one of my coworker was looking at my daughter's birthday pictures and commented on my green plaid couch "that is the ugliest couch I have ever seen" - well, I came back and said - "yes, I went to the furniture store and asked to see their ugliest couch and bought it" - then she saw that I had a lot of people over and asked why wasn't she invited. I told her that I didn't want to deal with comments on my home decor. Of course, she is half jokingly saying every thing - well so am I :)

  7. Balu: Not that i feel bad and brood--its just a prick.And most of the time there is no logic to why that person said it. About circulation--it was just a case in point--to illustrate.I dont make any extra money if the circulation increases!

    Tys: how very lucky you are that you really do not see the pricks--I am ultra-sensitive to such things.And that 350 dirham comment really made me smile :)

    Pink Dogwood: How an people make such comments?!! How insensitive.Am glad you didn't invite her and nice that you give it back half jokingly.

  8. I don't know what the secret is about handling such poeple. I am disgusted by such people but sadly it is such people who are considered the 'smarter' kind and my experience says are also more popular. Sad state of affairs.

  9. Ignore them. Sometimes it is hard but we atleast would know who are our real friends out there.

  10. I'm sure even when we do not mean to be, our words can be judged by someone as hurtful...depends on the how they're heard. But I agree totally that some people seem to be unable to give possitive comments.

  11. I'm sure even when we do not mean to be, our words can be judged by someone as hurtful...depends on the how they're heard. But I agree totally that some people seem to be unable to give possitive comments.

  12. its ultimately unto us to choose what we need to take in..we maynot have the choice to decide we hear..but we have the choice to decide what gets back in us....

    Prickers are everywhere..they just needs be given a "shft+delete" from our lives...

  13. I have had these comments all the time(pricker is a good term), you are right, when ppl close to you make such comments,you end up getting shocked....well, we just need to develop thick skin coz these prickers never change....

  14. Priya: Yes, giving it back someimes may help too.

    Mathew:It's hard at times when they happen to be very entwined in your life.

    Niall:You are very right.When we point a finger, we often forget that there are three fingers pointing back at you.Yes--may be it depends on how they are heard--but some things there is absolutely no mistaking what was intended.

    Pranay: i dont think they are considered smarter.People who ridicule are not really leaders.

  15. unfortunately, thats just the kind of guys we all come across in life , isn't it ? I mean, think of it. How many of our insecurities stem from these 'simple well meant comments' by people who just look to get this kinda sadistic pleasure..

  16. i love the name u have coined for such characters!

    Some ppl speak w/o thinking..w/o processing wat they are gonna say in thier brains...they dont get wat kind of an impact it sumtimes has on the person who listens!

  17. Wow!! Great post!! It almost seems like we were thinking of the same things at the same time! I just wrote a post on Psychobabble called WORDS which talks about how others like to bring people down and how our self-worth is better off dependent on ourselves rather than others.

    A lot of people out there are insecure, jealous, and what-not for reasons unknown to us. And when they fail to bring themselves up, they bring others down. What do you call them? Prickers! Hahah! Will remember that!

  18. You mind if I put a link to your blog on mine..connected to my post?

  19. Roshan: it is hard to pretend that their words do not affect us.They do--but I think like a prick, the ouch factor fades--you are caught by surprise--you ouch and then forget about it.One should not let comments like that make you feel insecure.

    Solitaire: I am honoured.I just read your post and left a comment.Looks like we were both trying to say the same thing at the same time! :)No I dont mind you linking me at all--in fact i'd be honoured.:)

  20. True, the world would definitely be a better place without such people...probably too perfect for comfort though!

  21. Ohhhh i hate prickers!! And im so glad you've come up with a term for them...sometimes nobody but you would understand that you've actually been put down and if you try to voice that thought everyone around you will think you are overeacting and of course the person meant well! Hmph! Meant well indeed...bah! lousy self-confidence deflators!

  22. All the comments above have expressed wht I want to say and I have to say that I totally agree with balu's statements.

    And Ps u really r sensitive, arnt u? I mean ur works spks for itself & ur figure is like amazing.

    Now to what I would advise;-P....Whenever somebody says something like this just smile & thank them for their concern....but that killer smile has to contain part amusement, part pity & lots of kindness...believe me no pricker will forget it in a hurry;-D.

    Ps: Bitchy, aint I!!!!

  23. nice post and apt! For me though, if its a person i dont knw so well, i think they have no business commenting anything in the first place be it my behavior or dressing sense, but if its a close friend, i wud seriously acknowledge their concerns, coz i knw they have my best interests in mind... And then there are the kinds who pretend to be oh-so-concerned abt you, but their agenda is something else... I knw some ppl who so subtly 'prick' that i dnt realise it then, but later it strikes me and i feel enraged and miserable at the same time... Enraged coz, i cudn't give them back a pat reply and they are let off scot free...miserable coz it hurts... and no matter if ur sensitive or not, it keeps playing in your mind...

    And the worst types are those who have an opinion abt each and everything, and can't just let some things be...

    The best defence agnst prickers is to let them knw that u wont tolerate it...and no need to be bitchy abt it...just tell them time they'll knw better than to say anything in front of u...and if they say anything behind you, really who cares!!

  24. I think the best defence against prickers is offense. Give it back to them in language they understand. That's the only way they know that we won't take it lying down.

  25. I think at times like these the words are like a piece of glass, shatters to the ground just like it shatters someones's feelings. And yes!!! if a person means to say something helpful, there are ways to do so, without being hurtful.
    And its easier for others to say," ignore it" ...thats easier said than done..

  26. In my case, my relatives are the BIGGEST prickers and its hard to give it back to them because as my mom always says "We have got to maintain "good relations"'. (yeah right !)

  27. aye aye! so so true! :)

    there are times when i feel like saying something and i will keep my mouth shut 'coz its not for me to hurt someone with my opinions which really dont matter!

    happened to me recently when i told my MILs that i have started doing bit of writing for money (VERY l'il money), but exciting nonetheless that you are earning out of what everyone though you are good at!

    what does she say. good! better if you do this kinda work only, even if its kam paise and stay at home and take care of your child!

    i was like WTF! you are not coming here to help me! you dont even KNOW how i manage home and work! its not even your place to comment!

    i rarely get upset at what people say! but sometimes it just gets too much!

    i can feel my hide get thicker though!! :D

    some people call it 'fat'! :p



  28. Mama-mia: Yes!! I know exactly what you mean!By the way that kind of comment is something that women of that generation seem to love making.It can be very upsetting at times.

    Priyanka: Sadly so in my case too!

    Prats: It takes a while--but one gets over it--At the end of the day, you know what you are--so it does not really matter.But just for that moment, it is an ouch.

    SMM: sometimes its just not worth the effort to stoop to that level.It just drains you out more.

    Ancy:Yes--close friends MAY have your best interests in mind--and by the way, they say it also in such a manner that one does not even think twice about it.But when you know it is coming from malice--thats where the ouch-ness comes.

    Nancy: Sensitive--I don't know..Insecure--sometimes. (Though it does not seem so) But when someone close to me says something unexpected like this, yes--it hurts.If its someone I dont know well, i really do not care and it does not bother me even, as it is coming from jealousy. But from someone close you do not expect it.

  29. 'prickers' they are alright. deflate you as nothing else does, and the intention all along, is nothing short of that i guess. And well, having m-i-l's, who are not all that 'sensitive' you get your life long share of these pricks, and then on, as you say, your hide becomes toughened, and sort of does good, to just bounce them off.

  30. Its better to be silent than to make a bad remark..

  31. sometime my collegemate used to tell u look thin and bad..then i reply i am suffering from malnutrition..he he..i used to add more bad words....its all abt. how u feel abt urself..for me it does matter what others tell..since i did not care...but it matters when pass comment abt others.First time i read ur blog..good stuff:)

  32. Hey PS how true is this!!!I have had my share of prickers!!And sadly I cannot give back and later I let it bother me.My hubby is the calmer one,very rarely does he get affected and keeps telling me the same.He says have a choice to react to each and evrything that comes ur way!!No one can take that away from u....

  33. Be a pachyderm huh! How about telling them to go eff themselves -I don't know about you but I say exactly that and I feel a whole lot better the very next minute.

    P.S: And ps, I'm sure you already know (damn well!) that you look absolutely great and you write amazingly well :)
    Don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise.

  34. thanks for the wonderful post! having lived with all kinds of pepole now, the prickers don't matter until they enter my family domain. most family prickers comment when they didnt like what i did/represent or wanted me to change myself or just simply couldn't understand who i am. although it hurts to nurse a grudge but i make it a point to give it back to these folks sooner than later. would rather keep the image of being rude and ill-mannered in their eyes than be an easy target next time around. tricky it becomes when prickers are the elders whose consider it their business to poke their nose in my business without invitation and my parents bar me from retorting. but i always remember - thorns never bud into roses... if prickers have too much energy to pass out comments they are most definately not minding their own business and its gonna come to hit them... sooner than later.

    such is life :o)

  35. I feel that very often these comments or remarks are meant as a camouflage some inner sense of insecurity or envy. Now who wouldn't want to wear high heels and feel good.. There have been times when some unthinking comment has spoiled my mood for the whole day. At other times I feel guilty for having made some comment ... I admit I have been a pricker at times.. :(

  36. Hi Preeti,

    Very well written post..I really liked ur suggestion as to how to judge whether a comment is a put down. I come across many "prickers" too , and dont really know how to deal with them, confused if they actually have any intentions of hurting.

  37. good time u posted this at :) u know why :) :)

  38. Sometimes you just need to even stoop down to their know what they say PS, "keechad mein haath daala hai to ganda hoga hi."

    Sometimes it's necessary - whether i be to stop any further attacks or for one's own ego or peace of mind.

    And when even that does not work, then I just cut the person out of my life. I find that easier. If its impossible to cut the person out, I minimize y interaction with that person to the least extent possible

  39. Well these "Prickers" are very easily found these days....but I believe in giving it bak to them...nd hell it feels much better...evryone shuld try it once! :)

  40. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  41. Raghav: Visited you and left a comment there--thanks for stopping by.

    Prakhar:I have tried that--I don't feel happy afterwards as it spreads so much negativity.

    SMM:I do that too--minimise the interaction.Somehow when it happens to be a relative, rhen one does not feel like 'giving it back' as some things are best left unsaid.

    Shruti: i know!! :)

    Anvesha:Glad you found it useful.

    Inolongeram: That must be the most honest confession I have heard in the recent times! i wonder why you do that.

    Manasi:Somehow when it is a relative or a memeber from your extended family, i always keep quiet.I have 'given i back' on more than several instances--That was when i was much younger.I realise I dont feel good afterwards--for that moment the satisfaction may be there.Later it is just so much of negativity.Now I am older and hopefully wiser--so i just keep quiet.And yes--you are so right, even for me prickers dont matter until they enter a certain domain.

  42. Still thinking:Thanks! See my comment above to manasi.

    Chandan:Sometimes it is better to not give it back.See my comment to manasi.


    Onlooker: i agree--we should just bounce it off.

    Sri: i agree 100%

  43. awesome POST!! woohoo for u!!

  44. or simply tell the prickers that if you see a problem, its all yours, keep it :)

    easier said than done, nahi?

    lovely post.

    Waise, are these TOI articles you write published online. Would love to read them.

  45. This happnes everytime when I buy new things for me... people saying like you could have bought that one... it is not good product... it doesn't suit something like that..when i'm enjoying the new things... You cant stop these prickers... well just dont consider them...

    Cheers :-)

  46. pssst... sometimes I wear my high heels (platform) even in my kitchen while I cook...out of DOES need to see inside that saucepan one is stirring..right? No prizes for guessing how tall I am!!! :D

    And I think you should take only those people's comments to heart who really matter...I mean who are important to you or who are really good at the subjct in question..anyways easier said than done...and I WISH to God I had a paunch like yours!!! hee hee...

  47. they always mean 'well' dont they?
    I hate the ones that always disguise their comments through humor!
    You never know when to laugh or when to take it seriously... I think thats the real put-down. They leave you in a state of complete confusion and you cant help but feel so so small.

    And sometimes I think these ppl act this way on purpose... they know the reaction it generates in other people and they do feel superior!

    -the other shru

  48. Preeti, I can soooo understand what u r trying to say here. I have a hard time battling a certain pricker almost every single day of my life... and yes, it does hurt coz u r making this gigantic effort to just let them 'be' as it is and getting wounded again and again does take it's toll... (even through a thick hide.)

  49. Punam:Sometimes it is hard--but to answer them will only be to put yourself down.

    Ohter shru: and you know what--when they know it hurts you, they usually pick on you.Once or twice if you give it back they will usually stop.But when it is a family member we hesitate.

    Wannabe writer: You are o good for my soul!! :)

    Karthik:Comments like those are so much drenched in jealousy.

    Aneri Masi: True.just click on my and link to all my work is there.

    Zephyr: thank you--hoo!! :) :)

  50. Sometimes it happens unknowingly.. but not always.. at times if it is a person who has knowingly hurt me in the past then i feel no guilt.. or it is v v simple to make me feel guilty.. just by reading this post.. I felt guilty for really long.. honestly I watch what I say.. and i feel a retort coming I say it in my head and smile to myself.. my lil secret :)

  51. haha... i can imagine!!! there are people who can't spell COMPLIMENt.. :) whiners... :D


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