How to Deal With Rude Behavior

The poet, Rudyard Kipling, wrote:

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you…

Such is the key of dealing with the rudeness which is abounding in our world. Rudeness is a social problem.

Standards in civility have been steadily declining, to the extent that a single day rarely passes us by without experiencing some type of rudeness. Rudeness has diverse implications on our life. Aside from the anguish it causes us, it also damages our confidence in ourselves and harms relationships which could be otherwise healthy.

Rudeness is probably the cause of more anguish in our day-to-day life than any other event. We evaluate whether we have had a good day or a stressful day largely based on our experiences with other people and how they leave us feeling. We have no control over the way that people choose to behave, but we can control our reaction to rudeness, and the impact which it has on us. For this reason, the value in learning to deal with such situations becomes clear.

Always remain civil, no matter the provocation. This is not only good etiquette, but is the only effective response to rude behavior.

A negative situation handled well can sometimes turn the situation around and begin repairing damaged relationships. Your effort in learning civility in difficult situations will reward you repeatedly throughout your life.

To help you to respond to rudeness in a healthy way, where “you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you”, here are the key strategies in their briefest form:

  1. Be Honest with Yourself – Ask yourself honestly if there was anything unreasonable in your behavior which may have provoked such rudeness. Unreasonable is the key word here. We should never expect perfection from ourselves or we would quickly feel responsible in some way for all the evil that is in the world. If you can honestly say that you have behaved reasonable and fairly, then you are dealing with intentional rudeness with no provocation.
  2. Control your Reaction – By not letting the words or actions of others control you, you can choose rather to not grant the rudeness an immediate response. Although the adrenaline is often starting to pump at this stage, using age-old techniques such as taking a few deep breaths or counting to ten will help to give you the time you need to respond with your head, rather than your tender emotions.
  3. Depersonalize yourself from the situation – Try to take a look at the situation in a way that a bird would if it was flying above you, without your personal interpretations and history. You will then be able to see if you are being directly attacked, or if it is only a perceived threat.
  4. Decide on a course of action – It should firstly be noted that even no action, if taken as a decision, is a course of action. Sometimes, doing nothing is the right thing to do. If the situation still needs to be addressed then deal with it as follows:
  • Clearly state the perceived rude behavior.
  • Explain the effect that this has on you.
  • Request the behavior to cease in the future.

Dealing with rudeness in these ways does not ensure that the behavior will cease, but ensures that you have remained civil under a difficult situation. We cannot change the world, but we can change our reaction to it.

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