WORK-LIFE BALANCE / SEP. 29, 2015
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7 Smart Ways to Deal with Rude People

The world is full of rude people. Anyone who’s ever been to Manhattan or worked in retail can tell you that. No matter how nice of a person you are (or at least think you are), you’ll eventually find yourself dealing with the cretinously repugnant at some point in your life. But you can’t let them get the better of you. It may be difficult to deal with the motley fools who seemingly live only to bring others down, but doing so in a positive way will only make you a stronger, and better, person in the long run.

See Also: How to Hold it Together While Dealing with a Rude Client

1. Don't Be Rude Yourself

Jennifer Lawrence flipping bird
MTV

How many times have you come into contact with a person who you considered to be rude based on the singular interaction you had with them? I’m talking about the guy who cut you off in traffic and honked his horn at you, or the woman who parked her shopping cart sideways in the aisle and then smacked her teeth at you when you moved it while trying to squeeze by. If you’re anything like me, you probably spent the next 10 minutes (okay, the rest of the day) wondering how anyone can go through life being so rude.

But think about it: how many times have you done something equally obnoxious? You don’t consider yourself to be a rude person in the slightest, do you? But what do you think the person you accidentally bumped into without saying sorry thinks about you? You’re probably thinking “Yeah, okay, but when I’m rude to others it’s because I’m having a bad day.” If you’re allowed to have that excuse, you should probably be a bit more lenient toward others.

2. Don't Take It Personally

But, of course, some people are just plain rude. Whether they weren’t taught manners growing up or they just really don’t give a damn about anyone but themselves, rude people exist in this world no matter what. But remember: it’s they who have a problem, not you. They’re not rude to you and only you; they’re rude to everyone they meet.

Like I said, I’m guilty of letting other people’s rudeness stick with me much longer than I should. But I know that’s my issue I need to deal with personally. That person who cut you off in traffic and flipped you off didn’t do it specifically to you; it just so happens that you were in the car that he zipped in front of. That cashier that was too busy texting to tell you to have a good day has been texting all day, and has been rude to all of her customers. Don’t take someone else’s negative behavior as a personal affront. In fact, don’t pay them any mind whatsoever.

3. Be Objective

This advice goes farther than just when dealing with rude people: be as objective as you possibly can at all times. Approach every situation you face not from an emotionally-charged first-person perspective, but from a top-down, omniscient point of view in which you can analyze everything as it actually happens.

Of course, this isn’t exactly easy to do. How do you figuratively remove yourself from a situation while you’re literally still in it? Start by analyzing your own actions: did you do anything to provoke the other person? Have you done anything to make them treat you any differently? If you look at things from your own perspective, of course you’re going to say “No way, it wasn’t me who was in the wrong.” But if you look at the situation as if you’re watching a movie, you might realize you did or said something that could have easily been misconstrued, even if you meant it in a joking or sarcastic way.

Also, while observing the situation objectively, look at the other person. Is there any reason they have for being so rude? Not that there’s really ever an excuse to treat a fellow human being like garbage, but are they having a bad day? Did they just face a setback in life or, even worse, a major tragedy? Don’t just assume someone is a jerk all the time; chances are they’re acting out of character because of some external factor neither of you can control.

4. Don't Stoop to Their Level

This goes along with the first point I made, but it’s more focused on your reaction to a rude individual. Whatever you do, don’t respond to their negative behavior with a snarky comment of your own. Doing so only reinforces their behavior. They want you to be miserable, because, chances are, they’re miserable too.

Not only do you reinforce their behavior, but you give them even more reason to come back at you with even more negativity. It’s a no-win situation; engaging with this type of person will only result in a shouting match between the two of you, and you’ll both leave the encounter absolutely steaming.

5. Offer Help, But Don't Force It

As I mentioned, when someone acts rude to you, it’s most likely because they’re having an awful day and they want to share their misery with anyone who will engage with them. Do the unexpected: act kindly to them, instead. Not only will it be a true testament to your character, but it also just may brighten up their day.

But, again, sometimes you just won’t be able to help them. You can only do so much to help a person get out of a funk, but if they’re dead set on wallowing in self-pity, they’re not going to be easily persuaded by your efforts. Recognize when this is the case, and move on with your own life.

6. Remove Yourself From the Situation

You might be one of those people who can’t be content unless everyone around them is happy (again, I’m just as guilty). There’s nothing wrong with wanting to do as much as you can to please everyone, but you also have to realize it’s unrealistic. Like I said, it’s important to recognize when someone is too far into their own funky mood to be helped. When you recognize this, you need to immediately remove yourself from the situation. The only person whose happiness you have control over is you. Don’t sacrifice your own good mood trying to cheer up someone who is inconsolable to the point of lashing out at others.

7. Let It Go

Once you remove yourself from the situation, let it go. Again, this is pretty tough to do. I know you need to vent about the idiot at the grocery store who rammed his cart into yours because he was too busy talking on his phone to see you were right in front of him, or the cashier that just had to finish up his conversation before he scanned your groceries, but once you get it all out, it’s gone, and you’re better able to focus on the good things in life. You don’t want to ruin those good things by keeping the negative on your mind at all times.

Don’t let these people ruin your day. Focus on the positive parts of your life: your job, your family and friends, your home—anything other than the rude morons you’ve dealt with throughout the day. They’re certainly not thinking of you anymore, so why should you waste time and energy thinking about them?

See Also: Oh How Rude! International Business Social Faux Pas

We unfortunately live in a society in which too many individuals focus entirely too much on their own wellbeing and don’t give a second thought to the happiness of others. But that doesn’t mean you have to buy into it. You’ll inevitably come across your fair share of rude people throughout your daily life, but it’s how you react to their selfish behavior that defines who you are and what the mark you’ll leave on the world will be.

How do you deal with rude people? Let us know in the comments section below!

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