Hey, knock it off, will ya?

by Betty Lochner on July 6, 2010

Let’s face it. We live in a world filled with rude people.  Unhappy, angry, cranky, rude people.  And, rude people can easily push our buttons and start a disagreement or worse.

Rude people will always be among us – on the road,  in line at the store, at a baseball game, walking the dog – just about anywhere you may be.  But, how we choose to deal with rude people that cross our paths may well influence the quality of our own lives.  Quite simply, we will be less stressed out if we know how to handle rude people before we get our buttons pushed.

My theory on why people are rude includes two main reasons:

  1. They need to be in control the situation. They think being rude will invoke fear and gain them that power.
  2. They are used to being treated poorly. That makes them think it’s okay to treat others poorly.

Neither are good reasons.

As my grandma, Nankie, often said “you get more bees with honey than vinegar”.  The point being that being rude is a choice, and it doesn’t have to be your choice.

So, what so you do when the inevitable happens – when someone is rude or inappropriate around you?

There are two basic responses for most of us:

1) We complain under our breath (or to someone else behind the offender’s back) or walk away.
2) We fight back by joining in the bad behavior by being rude back, or worse.

Fight or flee…Violence or silence….

That’s how most people automatically react.  But, it’s really not all that effective. In fact 85% of the time when we respond to someone being rude, inappropriate, or angry, we will get better results by being  pleasant and assertive.

So, how do you do that?

When faced with a rude person do the following:

1) Memorize a communication script you can use in most situations.

2) Practice it.

3) Be ready to use and modify it for each situation.

Here are a few examples of using  a nice, assertive script:

  • I’m sorry, perhaps you’re unaware. We’ve been standing in line for over fifteen minutes and the line forms over there.
  • Excuse me, it would be great if you would not talk so loud while the choir is performing.
  • Hello, I think it is my turn now.

And, always add a “thank you” for good measure.

Having a script may seem silly or overly simple.  But, it really works— 85% of the time it is more effective at getting what you want than avoidance (silence) or being rude back (“sit down in front, you idiot!).

When we practice and step away from violence or silence and move toward assertive and polite, we can get amazing results. Just think about the possible impact if instead of modeling conflict avoidance or violence, we modeled and practiced good interpersonal skills to those around us?

It starts with you. Now, go be nice!

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