Rude People! Yes, I’ve encountered a few of them. Have you? Whether it’s the way they ignored you or how they responded sharply and attacked your personality, handling rude people can be quite difficult. So, what is the best way to handle rude people?
Here are five practical tips from my experience:
Acknowledge the reality of the situation but don’t let it change who you are: If you set out every day with a list of people you want to change, you are on a futile mission. In reality, the only person you can change is yourself. As you change yourself, your view of others changes and hopefully others see you and emulate you in return. So, if you are in a conversation with someone who is rude, acknowledge the person is rude but don’t let it define you nor blind your view. Develop a tactic on how to engage without arousing the negativity. Be factual. Use open-ended questions to dig into the details and make an excuse for the person’s attitude upfront.
Empathize: Every attitude, whether negative or positive, has a story behind it. So before you judge, observe. Don’t just listen to what’s being said. Try and see through what is not being said. Why are they being rude? Is there something going on with the person that you are not aware of? Is it a one-time behavior or is there a trend? Are you the only one who experiences this behavior? Are they just having a bad day? Digging deeper beyond the outward display you see can help you manage the situation better.
Find A Common Ground: Connecting with someone who is rude can be demanding and require some effort not to take it personal. Try to find some common ground so you can still get something out of the conversation. If rude remarks are still thrown in your face, choose instead not to take it personal. There are some things not worth fretting over. Depending on the interaction, you can choose whether to let it go, when to be silent, and when to speak. Assess the situation and decide the appropriate response. It is easier said than done so taking a few seconds to decide what to do empowers you and sets you above the situation. Before the conversation, ask yourself “How can I get the best of out this conversation?”
Respond vs. React: Tone of voice and body language speak louder than words. When confronted with a negative tone and body language, do not reciprocate automatically. In the end, soft always wins over harsh! Control the tone of your voice. Speak slowly and in a softer tone to neutralize the atmosphere but don’t compromise on the quality of the discussion while doing so. You can still be assertive, speak firmly, and get your thoughts across without flaring up. Controlling your emotions takes lots of practice so practice breathing techniques that can help you manage the situation. Then practice, practice, practice. You’ll feel great afterwards.
Don’t be a passive accomplice: Sometimes when confronted with a negative or unacceptable behaviour, a spontaneous reaction could be to ignore it like it never existed. Not confronting such behaviour makes you a passive accomplice, someone who quietly accepts it or pretends it will go away. Don’t shy away from confronting unacceptable behaviour. The earlier you call attention to it, the better. It is in the best interest of not just you and the rude person. It can also prevent more people from getting hurt in the future. Sometimes, a rude person doesn’t even know he or she is displaying such behaviour. Seek the right moment to give the feedback but do so in a constructive and timely manner. Cite a specific example to help the person relate to the situation.
Learning to connect with rude people can be tough but it is a skill we can improve on to enhance positive and productive conversations.
Mofoluwaso Ilevbare (Fofo) is a certified John Maxwell Coach & International Speaker. For more from Fofo, you can follow her blog: mofoluwasoilevbare.com