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How to Be Nice to People who are Rude

Updated on February 25, 2015
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Nicholl McGuire has been providing useful content on websites since 2007. Learn more about her business Nicholl McGuire Media.

What Makes a Person Rude?

When we were children we were told any number of character attributes that constituted a person acting rudely to us, our parents, and others.

You were considered rude talking with your mouth full. Rude if you didn't say, "Yes Ma'm" or "No Sir" or rude if you were told to do something and you took too long to get around to doing it. Acting rudely is a matter of perception depending on where you live in this world, what state you grew up in, and what neighborhood street you use to play on. Then throw in culture and that can make things all the more difficult for two people living in the same home to get along!

So what exactly is acting rudely? Well according to the Merriam Webster's Dictionary, you are considered rude, when you "lack refinement and delicacy" or "act offensive in manner or action." You are considered rude even when you don't know something like in this additional definition in the dictionary, "marked by or suggestive of lack of training or skill." So there are those who are considered rude if they don't savor the taste of wine or stand appropriately at an event. Then there are those who are inexperienced that are also described as rude, now isn't that just rude? With this understanding on what scholars behind a dictionary consider rude, one's behavior is left to the eyes of those who just know how certain things should be done in a select setting whether that place is your home, workplace, church or somewhere else. I ponder the following invented scenarios.

If I am walking pass people in an airport, and I choose to speak and they don't respond, then are they considered rude or simply distracted by life and choose not to acknowledge my attention starved self?

If I am eating at a dinner table and burp and don't say, "Excuse me Sirs and Madames" am I rude for not drawing attention to my burp?

If I see you a couple of times or more walking in the same mall and we make eye contact and I don't say, "Hello" or "Hey, I keep seeing you, should we be talking?" Am I being rude?

We could list many more examples, I will leave that up to you in the comments section. But once again, what you might call rude may not be for me.

So how might one behave nicely around others acting rudely? Tips follow.

How to Be Nice to Rude People

When one is obviously upset with you, a partner, the neighbor, or some one else, you don't have to receive that energy. You have to first make up in your mind that "I will not go there today!" or say some other phrase that makes you feel empowered. Either way, the most important thing to know when dealing with rude people is to try not to let their emotions rub off on you in such a way that makes you look weak, unskilled, ignorant, or crazy. With that said, here's what you will do when you encounter a rude person especially one who believes he or she is "the best, greatest, and most wonderful" and all you are is a peasant.

1. Smile and ask what is it that you are in need of/ want/ hope for/ desire/ love, etc. Notice you are making yourself available to be of some assistance which puts them in a position to ask you for something, not the other way around.

2. When the tone of voice is upset, bitter, or a mumble, nothing wrong with saying, "Is there something wrong?" Although you might be one who is going through a few things yourself and could care less about how this person feels, listen. Look into his or her eyes with a blank look on your face, a poker face, and say nothing until he or she gets to a part in the story that sounds something like, "I feel..." Acknowledge one's emotion with a head nod, a "yes" or a one word question like, "What she did that, I can't believe it?" or a statement like, "I am sorry to hear that..."

3. When this person is done speaking you will want to tell him or her how you intend to help or direct him or her to some assistance. Try leaving out statements like, "Well if that were me...or I would have never..." because an arrogant, self righteous or know-it-all attitude will only further irritate the rude person.

4. Offer to give a rude person something when it is in your power. He or she might not be very appreciative of your actions at that moment, but he or she will remember them later.

5. Be equally nice to others. You don't ever want the rude person to feel worse than he or she already feels by treating others around you better.

6. If the person is very difficult and appears threatening, do what you can to get others involved ie.) boss, police, security, etc.

As long as you know you were careful in how you responded to the rude person without eye rolls, deep sighs, and an unflattering tone to your voice, and took the time to listen and provide assistance, you have nothing to worry over. If you have a faith, pray for peace of mind, because after dealing with a rude person you will need it--rude people can be spiritually draining!

How Not to Behave with a Rude Person

So this person really made you angry with the head rolls, yelling, stomping of feet, and throwing things? Now you could have done any number of things, but you didn't. However, for some readers they gave a rude person a challenge here and there at least one or two times in their lives. Here's what not to do.

1. Tell this person, "Do you have something in your eye, would you like my knuckle to get it out for you?"

2. So you don't speak, huh? "You are rude!" It turns out the rude person really doesn't speak--oops!

3. Crack your gum and say, "You want some fries with that shake or maybe you want me to come over there and shake you up a bit!"

4. Tell everyone witnessing the rude person act angrily, "Will somebody come and get him, because I'm fixin' to put my foot where the sun don't shine!"

5. Gossip or lie on the rude person, "Not only was he rude, but he had some ugly children with him and I couldn't believe that the woman he was with was really his wife!"

Clearly, these are some of the worst examples, peppered with my own sense of humor and a memory recall of a few things I heard relatives say. Most likely similar statements in reality would include a few curse words, neck swirls, hair toss, screaming, and who knows whatever else! Stay safe out there my friend and avoid such ignorant confrontations. So a family friend once told me (almost 20 years ago,) "Rise above it!"

Tips You Can Use to Avoid Rude People at the Workplace

"He's coming, it's time to get back to work, I hate listening to him talk!" an employee quickly whispers and takes off running to her desk. "Me too, he is so rude!" says another worker. So there you are standing there totally unaware that the man coming toward you with the frown is that bad. You thought, "Oh some people have their bad days." But this person seems to always be that way. So what might you do in the future to avoid those frequent back-handed nasty comments someone at your workplace might say to you?

One. Pay closer attention to your surroundings and do like your co-workers do, leave the group. People are drawn to groups especially rude individuals who think they are funny so don't be a live audience for them.

Two. Be honest and tell the rude person politely about things like: negative comments, mannerisms, and if there are odor issues like bad breath, dirty hands, or gas attacks, offer him or her a piece of gum, hand sanitizer, air freshener, etc. and mention whatever else bothers you only if necessary and note the date and time of your confrontation. Do you think he or she is going to spare your feelings?

Three. Tell your superior how this person makes you feel if he or she hasn't stopped disrespecting you with words, body odors, etc. Be sure to put your complaint in writing.

Four. Stay busy and don't stop what you are doing unless you have to.

Five. Don't talk to the individual unless absolutely necessary, and when you do, keep it business related and brief.

Six. Don't laugh at the rude person's jokes.

Remember, keep a record of every encounter when he or she said something rude to you include dates and times. When the opportunity comes, present your journal to human resources, a supervisor or boss, be sure to give them a copy of your notes--never an original.

© 2012 Nicholl McGuire


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