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How to Deal With Rude People

by Anna Green

In nearly every social situation -- whether at work, at a family gathering or just interacting with people you meet on the street -- there is a good chance you will encounter rude behavior. Wherever you encounter a rude individual, try to keep you calm and not take the behavior personally. Chances are, the rudeness has nothing to do with you.

Develop a Mature Perspective

One simple way to deal with rude behavior is to draw on the old phrase, "kill them with kindness." While you cannot control another person's rude words or actions, you can choose how to respond to them. While this might take practice, ignore the rudeness and simply act politely. Keep in mind that many people are rude because they feel frustrated, angry or are dealing with stress. Although their personal circumstances do not justify rudeness, understanding where they are coming from can help you respond to them in a way that neither upsets you nor leads to rude responses. Showing empathy and trying to find common ground by finding some point on which you and the rude individual agree, however small this point, can be highly effective, explains education professor Joan Roads of Virginia Commonwealth University on the college's online training page, "Dealing With Challenging Colleagues and Administrators."

Address the Rudeness

If you are dealing with a friend, family or co-worker who has a pattern of rudeness, address the behavior directly. Be firm and assertive, sharing your perspective in terms of how the rude behavior affects you. For instance, if you are upset by an rude remark about your appearance, you could say, "I felt hurt and offended when you made fun of my outfit." Tell them that you find these kinds of comments unacceptable and ask them to not behave similarly again. If at all possible, have the conversation in private.

Workplace Settings

Workplace rudeness can pose a unique set of problems because some rude behavior may cross the line into breaking company policy. If you have a rude co-worker who is unresponsive to calm and constructive confrontation, consider reporting the behavior to your boss or supervisor. When you report the behavior, note the time, date and the nature of the rude behavior and frame it in terms of how it is affecting your ability to do your job.

Walk Away

Since you ultimately have no control over another person's rudeness, it may be beneficial to walk away from rudeness without comment, particularly if you start to feel agitated or angry. This will help you avoid confrontation. If the rude individual is a friend or family member, distancing yourself from them or cutting off contact altogether may be necessary, particularity if their behavior is negatively affecting their life or if the rudeness is aggressive or involves verbal or emotional abusive behavior, such as name-calling, put-downs or efforts to control you.

About the Author

Anna Green has been published in the "Journal of Counselor Education and Supervision" and has been featured regularly in "Counseling News and Notes," Keys Weekly newspapers, "Travel Host Magazine" and "Travel South." After earning degrees in political science and English, she attended law school, then earned her master's of science in mental health counseling. She is the founder of a nonprofit mental health group and personal coaching service.

Photo Credits

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