15 Things People Say When They Want To Get A Rise Out Of You

15 Things People Say When They Want To Get A Rise Out Of You

If your blood boils when someone makes a passive-aggressive comment or gives you a subtle put-down, you might be giving the person exactly what they want: an emotional reaction. Yup, it’s manipulative—don’t give them the satisfaction of an emotional outburst because they’re not worth it. Keep an eye out for these 15 phrases.

1. “Are you really asking that?”

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When someone responds to your question with a sarcastic, “Are you really asking that?” it’s often a thinly veiled attempt to belittle your intelligence or invalidate your question. This phrase carries an undertone of condescension, implying that the question is so obvious or foolish that it doesn’t warrant a serious response. It’s a subtle form of gaslighting that can leave you feeling dismissed or embarrassed. It’s also used to assert dominance in a conversation.

2. “You’re not making any sense.”

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This phrase can sometimes feel like a direct attack on your intelligence or communication skills. It suggests that your statements lack logic or coherence, undermining your credibility and confidence. It can be used as a tactic to shut down dialogue or dismiss opposing viewpoints without engaging in meaningful discussion. By invalidating your perspective, the person can provoke feelings of anger and frustration, as well as self-doubt.

3. “You’re being so dramatic.”

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Another tactic someone might use when trying to get a rise out of you is criticizing you, like saying, “You’re being so dramatic.” Implying that you’re exaggerating, like when you confront them about something they did to hurt you, enables them to turn the tables on you. They can conveniently deflect responsibility, painting you as being highly emotional or unreasonable. Telling you that you’re dramatic is sure to make you angry, which will give them even more satisfaction.

4. “Calm down.”

couple in heated argument in living room

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No one ever helped anyone by telling them to calm down when they were angry or stressed out. In fact, it probably had the opposite effect and made them feel even worse! While it might be intended to defuse a tense situation, it’s often perceived as patronizing. It provokes feelings of indignation and resentment, implying the person’s emotional response is irrational. By telling someone to “calm down,” the person fails to acknowledge the underlying reason for their distress.

5. “But all you have to do is…”

Young couple walking together in a public park

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When you talk to someone about a problem you’re experiencing, instead of listening to you and acknowledging your feelings, they say, “But all you have to do is…” before proceeding with an obvious answer to make you feel silly for having opened up to them in the first place. For example, when you tell them your mechanic is asking for more money, they’ll say, “But all you have to do is assert yourself.” Or, when you tell them that you’re overwhelmed at work, they’ll say, “But all you have to do is find ways to de-stress.” Thanks, Captain Obvious! They’re presuming to know what’s best for you instead of respecting your perspective on the situation.

6. “Why are you so angry?”

amily quarrel and scandal, young interracial married couple swear and conflict at home on the couch, relationship problems, husband yells at wife

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If someone has pushed your buttons, you might express frustration, only for them to ask, “Why are you so angry?” Really? It’s enough to make you blow up! They could be doing this to tip your frustration over the edge. It gives them a rush of power to feel like they’re controlling your emotions so easily. They’re questioning the validity of your anger even though it should be obvious, dismissing your right to feel upset.

7. “That’s so cute.”

Positive young couple sitting on stone stairs with cups of coffee in hands. Smiling woman looking at boyfriend against sunset sky

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If you’ve shared your achievements or success, only for the person to say, “That’s cute,” it can feel patronizing. They’re trying to belittle you and make you feel bad, dismissing your accomplishments as trivial. It’s a kick to your sense of self-worth—by undermining your confidence, the person ruins your happiness and makes you doubt your success.

9. “Really?”

Boyfriend talking with girlfriend discussing plans on weekend resting on comfortable sofa in own apartment, serious couple in love spending leisure time together talking on couch in stylish room

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When someone responds to a personal story you’ve shared with them with “Really?” it makes it seem like they’re skeptical about what you’ve said. This one-word comment might make you feel defensive because the person’s obviously trying to challenge your credibility or authority, undermining your confidence.

10. “You look good… for a change.”

Photo of a young eccentric woman sitting in the living room of her apartment.

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This is a type of backhanded compliment that’s meant to throw you off and make you feel bad about yourself. The phrase “You look good… for a change” implies that how you currently look is an improvement from how you usually look. This reinforces negative self-perceptions and can cause you to feel insecure.

11. “Nope, you misheard me.”

The couple that argues together stays together. Quarrel on vacation

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This phrase is often used by people who want to avoid taking responsibility for their actions. By deflecting blame onto you by saying that you’ve heard them wrong, they can maintain a sense of superiority or control over the conversation. And, by implying that you’re to blame for the misunderstanding, they can get away with shutting down a conversation. It’s a common tactic used by manipulators like narcissists to dismiss your feelings and get an emotional reaction from you.

12. “Fine.”

Sad girl sitting on sofa at home and thinking. Young woman suffering from depression feeling sad and lonely

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Being in the middle of a fight when the other person tells you “Fine” and storms out of the room can easily provoke feelings of anger. While “fine” seems like an innocuous word, it’s usually filled with passive aggression and dismissiveness. It serves as a way for the person to end a conversation without addressing their underlying feelings or the relationship issues at play. It’s emotionally immature because it makes the other person feel like they’ve got the last word, leaving you feeling dismissed.

13. “Don’t be a baby.”

Displeased young man looking at his stressed wife touching her head

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Someone who’s trying to belittle you might call you a “baby” for expressing your vulnerabilities or crying when you feel overwhelmed. They’re making you feel childish or immature while asserting their dominance. It’s a manipulative attempt to undermine your self-esteem and make you feel like your emotional responses are unwarranted, irrational, and weak.

14. “I told you so.”

Man and woman are angry at each other. Relationship problems.

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“I told you so,” is a negative comment that feels like a slap across the face. It’s a nasty thing to say when you’re feeling so vulnerable—it’s just adding salt to your wounds. The phrase lacks empathy, coming across as smug or unsympathetic, focusing more on gloating to get a rise out of you instead of offering support.

15. “Other people agree with me that you’re…”

Young Couple Arguing On The Beach In Greece

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When a friend or partner says, “Other people agree with me that you’re selfish/unreasonable/impatient,” you’ll probably feel like everyone is ganging up on you. They want to make you feel isolated so they can assert their authority. By making you feel like your opinions and feelings don’t matter, the person is outright provoking you with their criticisms and trying to get a reaction that further proves you’re at fault.

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Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.
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