A Lesson: How to Respond to Rude People
By: Sonia Di Maulo, Feedback Enthusiast
When I was Young
When I was young my mother taught me not to respond to people who were rude. She would say, “Better to let them be.” The advice proved to be destructive in my personal and professional life.
What I wish I had learned was how:
The real question is how do we stop disrespectful emotions from flowing from one person to another. Destructive words crush the spirit, hijack our self-respect, and infect future words, actions, and thoughts.
The Dry Cleaner
A few years ago I had a self-realization about how not to respond to rude people. Through this discovery I learned how to do it right!
That day, the woman who served me exuded rudeness. Her words were obnoxious and disrestectful. Her body language and facial expressions made me shudder. It was a bad scene! In the past, I would accept the rude behaviour & walk away, just like my mother taught me. But that day I realized an important lesson: it’s not acceptable to accept someone’s bad day.
How it Turned Out
I told her that her behavior was unacceptable and that she was being rude. She then went from being disresctful to defensive; a really bad combination that kicked off an unpleasant exchange. My heart was racing, my day was ruined, and now I had to find a new dry cleaner!
I learned that:
I felt disresected by her words and actions and wondered if there was anything I could have done to change her day around and save other’s days from being ruined.
How it Should Have Happened
I replayed the event in my mind. I realized that it really happened differently. After realizing that she was having a bad day I reacted like this:
With a smile, I asked her how her day was going. She looked at me with a growl. Then I asked if there was anything I could do to change her day around. She let out a huge sigh and shook her head. I paid for my stuff and went home!
As I left her I realized that I had the power to engage in a respectful discussion with a disrespecful person. And I was able to respect myself when other people did not. I have no control over her future actions but hopefully I was able to stop the “bad vibes” from flowing to each new customer that entered the store. More importantly, I was able to continue to have a great day – I am the master of my actions!
Have you ever been the victim of rudeness? How did you respond? Did you respect yourself? Did you manage to stop the bad behavior from spreading?
Sonia Di Maulo is a Feedback Enthusiast, Professional Speaker and Performance Improvement Consultant. Current mission: Helping people to offer and ask for powerful inspiring Feedback. Are you ready?
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