Don’t you just hate rude people? You know the ones – always pushing in front in the queue or talking over you; and they never listen to anyone but themselves. And boy, do they think they’re right all the time. Going on and on about how terrible you are and how they would do things differently. It’s enough to turn the milk sour! They’re the ignorant ones, right? They’re the ones who need to grow up. They’re just pathetic!!!

OK, OK, we’ll stop now.

It’s interesting though isn’t it – how many of us start off on a seemingly ‘innocent’ rant like this, and before long, we’re being as rude or as disrespectful as the people we’re originally complaining about? Often, we’re worse. And yet we know deep down that this is not our preferred way of speaking or responding. We know it only escalates matters but at times, (especially when confronted by the very same, ‘rude people’), we often forget how to respond appropriately, and everything goes pear-shaped!!

In a nursery setting, it could be whilst speaking to a parent, a child or a colleague. So how do you deal with rude people? Here are some tips to help you out.

1.  Recognise that we can all be rude at some time

Most of us, if we are honest, will admit that we have been rude to someone at some point. Usually it’s when we’re annoyed or frustrated by something and we allow our emotions to get the better of us and speak without thinking, so it’s important to recognise our own part in rudeness, as it affects us all. Even the most mild-mannered person can, at times, express their emotions in a way that is not wholly appropriate, so try not to judge people too harshly, lest you become the hypocrite.

2.  Take a deep breath and stay calm

This is the key to a lot of emotional control – giving yourself space to offer a considered response to something, rather than a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction. Even a slow count to 10 and some deep breathing can give you the time to think more clearly about what your response will be. The next question is then, “Is it worth getting upset about, or can you let it go?” Try to set a good example with your own emotional regulation so that you avoid escalating things and turning the problem into a slanging match.
We are not saying it is wrong to have emotions – they are incredibly important – but there are always ways of expressing emotions which are more considered, and potentially less-damaging to anyone on the receiving end. The goal of an emotionally intelligent person would be to express emotions in ways that people take notice of, but don’t consider rude. So, if you are confronted with someone you consider to be rude, think about how emotionally intelligent you can be in return.

3.  Empathise and understand

Most people are not rude intentionally; this is usually the action of only a few people. Another good response to perceived rudeness might be to empathise and offer to help. For example, if someone cuts in front of you in the shopping queue, by accident or genuinely they didn’t see you there (we’ve all done it), perhaps all you need to say gently is “I’m not sure if you were aware, but there’s a queue here”, to which their response will most likely be: “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t see that”.

4.  Look carefully at the problem – do YOU need to apologise?

One thing to ask yourself too, is whether there is a genuine complaint, regardless of how badly it might be being expressed. And if so, do YOU need to apologise first? Life often holds up a mirror for us, to show us our own foibles and faults, so if you have done something that you feel you need to apologise for, don’t hesitate to do it.

5.  Use your best batting to deflect or duck

Sometimes, humour can be a great way to diffuse or deflect rudeness, but you need to be careful that you don’t come across as flippant or dismissive of a genuine problem as that would escalate things further. Humour is often a good way to deal with rudeness in children who might not realise that what they have done or said, is rude. Depending on the situation, if you make light of the matter and laugh, you can highlight the inappropriateness of their behaviour in a light-hearted way that doesn’t lead to more conflict. You have to be discerning here though and use humour appropriately.

6.  Reframe it – don’t give them the power to upset you

Reframing something is a term derived from neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) whereby you look at the situation from a different point of view or perspective – like putting a different frame around the situation. For example, if you feel someone is being rude and ignoring you deliberately, you might start to feel worthless or develop a lack of confidence in yourself. Reframing this would mean considering whether the person is really ignoring you, or whether they might be in awe of you instead, and find it hard to speak to you directly; or they may, in fact, have difficulty with social skills themselves, so they are not really being rude at all, but have a problem that they are struggling with themselves.

7.  Call them out – but nicely

Finally, you can challenge the person on their rudeness, but do it in a kind way. One example might be to use a phrase like: “I can see that you are upset by this, and I’m sure you’re not meaning to be rude, but when you say X ,I feel Y.” It acknowledges the other person’s emotions, without being confrontational and also lets them know the impact that their behaviour is having on you – without accusing them directly.

Most cases of rudeness stem from a lack of communication or a miscommunication, which can easily be resolved by taking a metaphorical step back from the high emotion of the situation, talking things through calmly, and clarifying the issues without accusations or insults. If you do that, you’ll find that you can deal effectively with whatever comes your way.

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