How to Respond to a Rude Person
Someone is rude when he or she is not showing concern or respect for the rights and feelings of others. Rudeness often happens suddenly in an unpleasant or shocking way. Learning how to respond calmly and compassionately to rudeness is a valuable skill, especially if you will be continually engaging with this person. Rudeness can be difficult to navigate, but fortunately there are techniques you can use to disarm a rude person, protect yourself, and even repair the broken interaction. Experiencing rudeness can have a large impact on health, so exploring your options for dealing with it will lead to a happier, less stressful life.
Choose whether to respond.Not everyone who is rude to you deserves a response. If she is clearly trying to drag you into a fight by being nasty, don't let yourself be pulled into a battle that serves no purpose. Resist the impulse to defend yourself in the moment, which ends up being a more powerful way of protecting yourself.This may be easier with an acquaintance than a co-worker or family member, but you still have the right to ignore someone who is being rude to you.
- If someone cuts in front of you while you're in line, this is rude. You can just ignore it, or you can be assertive. It depends on how bothered you are by it. However, if someone just doesn't say excuse me when he or she burps, that can be considered rude, but does not necessarily need a response.
Speak assertively.Being assertive is a middle way between being aggressive and being passive. Whereas an aggressive response may come off as bullying and a passive response may invite bullying, an assertive response helps you to remain firm in your convictions while allowing the other person to have her own space as well.
- One way you may want to practice being assertive is to practice speaking clearly and deliberately. Keep your voice firm and relaxed, but sincere.
- If someone cuts in front of you in line and you choose to say something, try: "Excuse me, Sir/Madam. Perhaps you didn't see me, but I was standing in line before you."
Communicate how you feel.In addition to being a technique of assertive communication, it may be useful to explicitly communicate your feelings if the other person doesn't understand that they are doing something wrong. This can stem from multiple places, such as having mental illnesses like social anxiety disorder, or being on the autism spectrum.You never know what the other person does and doesn't recognize about what she is doing, so it's a good practice to be clear about how you feel.
- Try saying, "It hurt my feelings when you called me annoying because it didn't make me feel valued as a person."
Be clear about acceptability.In addition to being clear about how you feel, it's useful to explicitly state what is acceptable versus unacceptable behavior. The person may not be aware of your standards for acceptable behavior in social situations. They may have grown up in a family where insults were regularly traded across the dinner table. If you are not willing to put up with similarly rude behavior, let the person know.
- Try saying, "It hurt my feelings when you called me annoying because it didn't make me feel valued as a person. Please be mindful of name-calling around me."
Shield yourself.It's important to distance yourself from rude and toxic behavior. Unfortunately, some of the rudest people actually target the most sensitive people.Remember that it is not your fault if someone else is acting rudely, even if they say it is. Each person is responsible for the way he or she acts, and you are not responsible for other people's rude behavior.There are methods of protecting yourself from the effects of rudeness however, such as:
- Talking it over with caring friends and family. If someone says something that hurts you, replay it with your loved ones so you can work through the attack together.
- Listening to your own voice. Don't let yourself be overcome by what the other person is saying to or about you. Take a step back and check in with yourself instead.
Learn to identify rude behavior.As simple as it may sound, sometimes it can be difficult to tell whether someone is being rude, playfully teasing in a friendly manner, or something else. Learning to recognize rudeness will help you deal with it in a prompt way that minimizes the emotional damage done. Some things to look for include:
- Yelling and other violent gestures, such as knocking something out of your hand.
- Not having or showing concern or respect for your rights and feelings.
- Relating to sex or other body functions in a way that offends others.
- Some behavior may go beyond the boundaries of what is considered rude. In those cases, consider if you are being verbally abused. Do you feel like you are continuously walking on eggshells? Are you the brunt of jokes that make you feel bad? Is your self-esteem spiraling down?. If so, consider filing a complaint with human resources if the person is a co-worker or leaving them if this person is a relationship partner.
Learn about what causes rude behavior.There are multiple reasons why someone might be rude to you, beyond simply retaliating for something you did. Understanding why people engage in rude behaviors will help you gain a broader perspective and respond with more awareness and less compulsion.
- A person may perform "downward comparisons" to feel better about themselves. This is a social positioning tactic where if they feel like she can bully you with rudeness and insults, it will make them feel more powerful in comparison. Obviously this comes from a sense of insecurity rather than confidence.
- Research suggests that sometimes a person will project things they don't want to admit about themselves on to other people. For instance, if she thinks she is physically unattractive deep down, she might go around telling other people they are ugly. This temporarily passes the problem on to others.
- A person may also respond with rudeness when they feel threatened. You don't always need to actually threaten them; they may feel threatened simply by being in your presence, if you are confident or have other desirable qualities.
Discover the underlying motivation.Ask yourself what might compel this person in particular to approach you in the way they are doing. Maybe this person never learned manners? Or maybe they feel intimidated or scared or is upset about something completely unrelated to you? Think about your recent interactions and see if you can come up with a possible reason, which will help you respond appropriately.
- If the person is a co-worker, did you forget to do something that was then passed on to them?
- If the person is a family member, did you take someone else's side in an argument?
- The person could even be trying to help in a roundabout way, or want to connect but not know how.
- Maybe they upset you by accident, and didn't know they were being rude.
Educate yourself on the effects.If you need a good reason to stay away from rude people or defuse rudeness, take a look at the impact that rudeness has on you. Experiencing rudeness from others impairs everything from creativity and brainpower to how helpful we want to be to other people. Rudeness may seem like a small deal that can be easily overcome and recovered from, but the research tells a different story.
Apologize if appropriate.Did the rudeness start somewhere else? Did you contribute to it or even start the bitterness with something you did? If so, a sincere apology can make all the difference or at least diffuse an angry person. If she doesn't accept your apology, you can at least gain some peace of mind from knowing that you admitted fault and tried to make things right.If you're not sure what you did, you can still apologize in a general way:
- Example: "I'm sorry if I've done something to offend you. That wasn't my intention."
Use nonjudgmental, nonviolent language.It's easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of rude, heated insults, but if you want to respond more effectively and compassionately, take a deep breath and change the way you word your complaints.
- Bad example: "You're being really rude to me!"
- Good example:"I feel hurt by what you're saying."
Ask the person about her needs.You can't always be the one to provide for a rude person, but you can certainly ask him or her her if there's anything you can do to help. This kind gesture will go a long way.
- Example: "I'm sorry that you're upset. Is there anything I can do, or we can do together, to help you feel better?"
Make your own requests.One way to end a situation where someone is being rude to you is to get her to understand where you are coming from and what you need, in a firm but gentle way. There are multiple steps to this process:
- Identify your feelings. Try to figure out what's happening inside you and what will make it better.
- Explain to the person why you are feeling this way. Couch the language in terms of your needs, rather than what she is doing wrong. Example: "I'm sorry, but I've had a hard day and I'm really sensitive right now. Can we continue this discussion later?"
- Request that something be done differently. Don't feel bad to request that a certain behavior or action take place, after explaining where you are coming from.
Cultivate compassion.Compassion means "to suffer together."If you can show the person that you are interested in her feelings of being hurt, that you want to help, then you can effectively develop compassion and empathy, which will end the dispute. We all suffer and feel pain, so it shouldn't be too hard to put yourself in the shoes of the other person and understand why she may be lashing out by being rude. This kind of understanding, compassionate response is worth it, because compassion has a large number of benefits, such as increased peace of mind, creativity, and healthy communication.
- Sometimes rude behaviors happen because someone is just having a rough day. You might find that after addressing the person's needs and have diffused the other person's frustration, he or she might apologize to you for their bad behavior.
QuestionI have a former friend who has not been nice lately. How should I respond to her?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou've probably already asked her to stop. Next time you hear her being rude/unkind, interrupt her words with a loud and very firm, "Please stop saying rude things to me". If she doesn't stop, you can make eye contact calmly. Make yourself relaxed, (lean, look at your fingernails, gaze at her with a bored expression) to seem more mature than her, and make her understand she's wasting your time with her immaturity. If you need to, walk away.Thanks!
QuestionMy friend always teases me. What should I do to stop her? Should I stop talking to her?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIWhen she teases you, tell her to stop if it makes you feel uncomfortable and you can even go up to her and tell her to stop teasing you. If she continues after that, she will only make you feel bad about yourself so you should slowly cut communication from her. If you are not in high school yet, once you go to high school there are so many people to make friends with who won't tease you, so don't feel afraid about being alone, you won't be. Overall, tell your friend to stop before you stop talking to her. Maybe she is joking around and will stop once you tell her how much it bothers you. And remember, don't believe anything she says that makes you feel bad about yourself.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I respond to a rude text message?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerHowever you like, just don't be rude in return. You can text back and say there's no need to be rude.Thanks!
QuestionHow should I deal with a rude classmate?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerBe polite and kind to your classmate. He/she may start behaving more respectfully if you set a good example. If they don't, you'll at least know you're being the bigger person.Thanks!
QuestionI have an adult student who is about 22 years old who constantly questions my teaching by bringing up an argument against something I say that applies to 1% of cases, laughs loudly, and acts bored in class. What do I do about this student?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTell that person that they need to be quiet and listen. They may offer up an alternate idea, but under respectful terms and realizing that you may disallow it for discussion. Otherwise they can get out of your class if they are going to be disrespectful.Thanks!
QuestionWhen I text my sister she is always really rude. I'm usually the one who tries to stop an argument but she's very snappy. What do I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerBe patient. You could also tell her that she hurt your feelings. She may not know she is being rude. Set rules for yourselves and try to understand each other.Thanks!
QuestionWhat should I do if people think I am married to my husband for money?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerWe can't control what other people think. It really doesn't matter. Just tell them how much you care about him, or say nothing at all and let your dedications speak for itself.Thanks!
QuestionThe female head of my household constantly burps loudly and often doesn't excuse herself. She also doesn't discourage her son from burping and farting loudly. Do you think this is a power trip, and what can I do to respond?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerLimit the time you spend with her. Remind her politely her behavior isn't appropriate.Thanks!
QuestionI have a friend who's depressed, and she can be pretty mean sometimes. What should I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou should make sure your friend gets help, whether or not they want it, so tell a trusted adult or counselor of their depression. Let her know that she hurt your feelings and help her be aware of how she acts, because if you don't she will most likely get into the habit of being rude to people without realizing it.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I deal with men who make rude comments at work?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerJust ignore them. If they begin harassing you, report them to your boss or human resources.Thanks!
My Grandma is very rude to me and always fights with my mom on holidays. I am 12 and try to interrupt her, but she tells me to shut up and swears at me. I live with her - how can I handle this?
- Breathe deeply and count to 10 before responding in the heat of the moment. This will activate the rest-and-digest part of your nervous system, helping you relax and respond less compulsively.
- If the person becomes violent, make sure to protect yourself, either by getting away from her or calling the police.
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