Flippant comments, rude gestures and actions, mudslinging, and other communication that can’t be humanely understood. Rudeness diminishes and demeans. It devalues the other person through intimidation, threatens, and humiliates. A person is unconsciously seeking control over another person by being rude. Instead of the ‘namaste’ of each person bowing to another person with dignity and respect, one person must ‘conquer’ over the other by making an impolite statement.
Everyone encounters impoliteness throughout the day. It almost inevitable if people are going to interact with each other. We all have different personalities, backgrounds, and issues which affect our mood. Some people are more adept at controlling reactions and responses more than others. These words which spew out thoughtlessly, or in some cases, intentionally, can be very hurtful to the other party. In today’s culture, it has become acceptable to say whatever is on our mind, whereas in the past the social expectation was to uphold a higher standard of politeness. At a minimum you were expected to be cordial, but impolite rude statements were unthinkable. What we allow is what we make the culture of today and the future to be. Understanding rudeness and how to counter it makes for more civilized society.
There are two kinds of rudeness: focused rudeness and unfocused rudeness. Focused rudeness is rudeness which is targeted at another person and is mean-spirited. There is a deliberate intent of insulting another person and causing a loss for them. Examples of this can be interrupting, gossiping, or controlling a situation to create disadvantage. Unfocused rudeness is usually self-centered, lack of consideration for others such as talking loudly on a cell phone, taking up too much space when space is limited, or cutting in front of line. It is taking liberties without the consideration of the next person. Of course by human nature we are inclined to occasionally make thoughtless and unkind statements or do things which are inconsiderate. While these are impolite, usually they are corrected quickly by those with well-formed consciences, followed by an apology.
There are health effects associated with rudeness. Rudeness can cause unnecessary stress, cardiovascular disease, damage self-esteem, cause mental anguish, emotional problems, lower morale and make daily life and work difficult. Relationships are damaged with rudeness. Over the course of time relationships deteriorate with continual impoliteness which stem from bad manners.
Rudimentary Causes of Rudeness
Rudeness can be a result of internal and external factors. In today’s world, we live in a strangeropolis society. People are perfectly happy being self-absorbed on their cell phones and computers. It is not unusual to not interact with other people for an entire day or even more. People do not care to know other people in person, or even try, because we don’t have to. We are self-sufficient and any information we need can be obtained with technology. However, what technology doesn’t offer as well is the ability to feel the emotion of the person in front of you. Especially when it comes to differences, they are easier to work out in person. Expressions give away hurt feelings, and it is more probable that the rudeness will cease as a result. However, expressions are not 100% foolproof as a means to identify how someone feels. Hurt can be concealed and may silently build up with repeated rudeness.
It is easier to be rude to strangers because we do not really care about them or their lives. It is easier to be polite, if the person is known, as with friends or known acquaintances, because care exists. Human-to-human interactions are an essential part of the human existence. To live as a single is more common than ever before making connecting with people in society even more important. Individuals who live by themselves must connect together in ‘smaller-societies’ whether they are friendships, social groups, or communities. There is a starvation of humanity to be in isolation disconnected from in-person human interactions. We were not put here to connect with others only through our cell phones and computers. When we are in these social circles, we are forced to get along and meld our differences finding compromise or acceptance. It is easier to be polite to those we love and those in front of us, rather than to strangers and people we do not know.
For the cyber-inclined what better refuge than to hide behind the screen of the computer or cell phone. By becoming an avatar or an emoji, we can hide safely and communicate when we want and avoid conversations when we want. There also can be miscommunication in how we might really feel. Video communication may seem that we are instantly connected and are ‘there’ more than ever. However, there is a part of human dignity which is missing from this when it becomes the primary way to communicate. It is a subliminal rudeness when the value of ‘not being there in person’ takes precedent over real-time human presence. There is no replacement for people being face-to-face. Impoliteness is bred when we do not connect in person with people.
Along with communicating via technology, what is acceptable to speak about has metamorphosed. Verbal impoliteness is not being thoughtful with speech. In the past, society had a level of civility which was expected which is lacking today. In many cases, we can speak freely whatever is on our mind, with our opinions at the forefront. What we have to say trumps over any consideration of how it may affect the other person. Culture is much more casual and rudeness has become not just more acceptable, but the standard.
Of course we all have bad days. We have our lives and issues which arise which may cause us to become more easily frustrated with other people and are impolite. How we react is something to be mastered. Some resort to counting before speaking. Others quickly paint situations differently in their mind before responding more positively. Some people are naturally witty and are able to counter impoliteness with humor. Others just blurt out the truth and then tip toe back across the line of being polite again apologizing for their boldness in speech.
A lack of balance can cause rudeness. When a person’s needs are not met, it is fertile ground for impoliteness to sprout. Being sick, tired, or hungry can cause a person to be rude toward others. When we are loved and well nourished, it is much easier to be positive and polite. Being self-centered or being materialistic can also cause rudeness. This can include being too busy for other people, being self-absorbed in work, or viewing self-worth above all others. Rudeness can materialize also, if a person is consumed with materialism. The latest fad becomes more important. Being forgotten and less important, the other individual can become rude. Likewise, insecurities and injustices can cause rudeness because the human worth is not being met with the dignity that is deserved.
Responding to Rudeness
Making a call on intentionally rude people can be a challenging encounter. Depending on the situation, it may be best to say nothing. Silence and curt words can indicate the impoliteness as can expressions. This may be enough to deflate the attention the person is seeking. However, the clearest way to counter impoliteness, is to address it directly and concisely. The impolite person may not realize the effects of what they are saying. Some of the classiest ways to respond to rudeness are with clever, friendly comebacks, but not everyone has this talent. When you are caught off guard and do not know what to say, remember to be polite and gracious in your response. Never feed into the rudeness combating it with rudeness. This will only escalate incivility. Appreciate the fact that the other person is entitled to their own opinion, and acknowledge this, but point out that the rudeness was offensive and hurtful. Keep positive in your response and also optimistic of a positive change from the other person.
Running from Rudeness
Perhaps you have had a run in with rudeness within your own personality and are interested in being more cultured with kindness and politeness. Jot down situations where you have been less than kind and reflect on how you would respond differently next time. Reflect on how you can make those situations right, if possible, and apologize to the person. Practicing compassion and empathy helps to foster politeness. When you try to understand another person’s situation from their point of view, you’ll find it is next to impossible to be as rude to them. Spend time with people who you have a tendency to be rude to. Get to know them and learn more about them. You may find out you did not have all the information you initially thought. Finally, it is easy to jump on-board with the popularity of gossip. Gossip will form ways of thinking with propaganda of what ‘should’ be believed. You may find yourself aligned with a popularity wave and have no idea how these opinions are rudeness to another or affecting their life. Go the extra mile by giving compliments and spreading a good word about other people to counter digression and foster politeness.
An ‘A’ in Apology
Apologies are gems at restoring relationships and honoring dignity. If you want to be more polite, first start with reflecting on how you may have hurt another person by being rude or insulting them. Then work on mastering sincerity in an apology. The steps to a successful apology are reflection, communication, contrition, and resolution. First reflect on how you were impolite. Communicate to the other person how you can understand of how your rudeness must have affected them. Tell them you are truly sorry with all contriteness, promising not to do it again. Then resolve sincerely to try hard not to do it again.
Rebutting rudeness and rolling in kindness is a call for a higher standard of civilized culture. Rudeness causes hurt feelings at a minimum. Humans find common ground by understanding the experience of another. With empathy, you can relate to what another person may be feeling or the situation they are going through. It is much harder to be rude when you can find care for another person. Interesting enough, the swing of the pendulum can continue to go to yet the other extreme. The Greek philosopher, Aesop once said ‘familiarity breeds contempt or acquaintances softens prejudices’. It is more difficult to be rude to a person who you know. It is easier to be rude to a stranger or someone you don’t understand. With greater familiarity, it becomes easier to take the relationship for granted which can result in the breakdown again of politeness. In all cases, the classiest method is to think of the other before self, stop the mud-slinging of impoliteness, and choose to be polite and kind instead.
—Clean Up Dallas with Culture and Kindness
Be Cultured. Be Kind.
[written for @cultureofkind]
Search for Books on this topic!
The Wrong of Rudeness: Learning Modern Civility from Ancient Chinese Philosophy
by Amy Olberding
The School of Life Guide to Modern Manners