We all have had unpleasant encounters with horrible and rude people and while some of us have found a way of dealing with them, the majority of us prefer to avoid confrontations with mean and insulting people. A few of us are so scared of conflict that we will rather allow the other person to talk to us in a disrespectful manner or even verbally abuse us than call them out on their behaviour. Some of us might go to great lengths to avoid argumentative situations and we might leave our jobs every time we face a rude co – worker or move houses to elude a face-off with a terrible neighbour. However, avoidance is not a solution and sometimes we might find ourselves in a situation where dealing with obnoxious people is unavoidable.
So what are some of the recommended ways of dealing with offensive people? While conducting research for this article I’ve come across many articles that would advise people to not take insulting behaviour personally, while others would suggest to focus on the importance of understanding the bad-mannered behaviour. It didn’t come as a big surprise that the main focus of most articles was to draw their readers’ attention to the consequences of confronting someone and how it could make their situation even worse, while at the same time ignoring the fact that sometimes by letting certain behaviour pass we might create more harm and cause further stress and anxiety.
It was also emphasized in the above mentioned articles that challenging others is not recommended due to us not knowing how the other person might react. They might be stressed or angry about something and they could flip at any time. This is something we can’t really argue with, however, it raises the question whether it is really possible to lead a completely risk-free life.
It goes without saying that if we have to make a decision between confronting someone who is full of anger and being safe, we should always choose staying safe. What I’m talking about here is to encourage people to say to a rude cashier in a bank, shop assistant, co-worker, manager, customer or stranger on the street who are being rude to us that we don’t appreciate being spoken to in such a disrespectful manner. Just standing there and ‘bearing and grinning’ is not the only choice we have in that moment. We can confront them and call them out on their rudeness.
While I agree to some degree with what has been written in the above mentioned articles, I was disappointed that people were not encouraged to stand up for themselves and be more assertive. Only few articles would motivate people to tell others in a calm and non-aggressive way how their behaviour has affected them.
There’s no denying that understanding someone’s behaviour could help us become more compassionate towards others, even people who treat us badly. However, our comprehension of various causes of rude behaviour and our compassion towards others doesn’t give people the right to walk all over us.
Pointing out insulting behaviour to people who are manifesting it won’t make them miraculously change the way they behave. They won’t and we should not expect them to. Nevertheless, by indicating their bad behaviour we let them know that we won’t tolerate to be mistreated by them. Many rude people treat others badly because they think they can and because no one or very few people have challenged their behaviour. As a result, they have learned that by being disrespectful and offensive to others they get their own way.
Standing your ground against rude people can be very difficult and it can be even more strenuous for someone who struggles with assertiveness issues. However, assertiveness is a communication skill and as any other skill it can be learned or improved upon. I will look at how to become more assertive in more detail in my next blog.