What Is Considered Rude Speech?

Cutting remarks, profanity, ordering instead of asking, speaking too loudly, being inconsiderate, interrupting, talking over another person not letting them speak, nonverbal communication, not being polite, dumbing down a conversation or speaking above the level of the other person, belittling, calling someone names sexual or nonsexual, mockery—these are all examples of rude speech.

It is easy to be misunderstood when communicating. The English language is fairly complicated filled with words which have multiple meanings, idioms, and slang. If you are not a native speaker, it can be that much more challenging to understand what is being communicated. It is more than just understanding what is being said—the context and meaning of what is being said must be understood and anything implied besides! It is so easy to be rude “in a nice way” and slip in added cuts cleverly to conversations to be caught by the ears in all the unpleasantness which is intended. Misunderstanding can also easily happen, especially if communication is not clear. A person might seem rude without even intending to be, if the message is received the wrong way. Questioning rude speech places the spotlight on the speaker to ask why they might have said something rude. Even if they are not honest, making a call that you were offended is part of self-respect and self-dignity which we have a responsibility to speak up for. When it is communicated there has been an insult made, it brings to the forefront that there is a problem, and sometimes this in itself is enough to discourage further rude speech. The speaker has successfully received the attention they were seeking and may decide to stop or at least think twice next time.

Online communication can equally lead to misunderstandings. What is typed may not exactly convey what is intended. Use of emojis and stickers are a good way to add expression to the message. Abbreviations used in text messages and emails also can lead to misunderstandings which can be taken as rudeness. Always clarify what is not understood. It may not mean what you initially thought.

When a person is rude to you, it is very easy to be caught in the moment to respond back equally with a rude comment in defense. Pausing before responding to carefully choose your words is the best way to be respectful and prevent an uncivil argument. Silently counting, adding a pregnant pause before responding can indicate something inappropriate was said. Sometimes the best method to address rudeness is to wait and come back later. It may be something you can ignore or it may not be as significant as it seemed in the moment. Thoughtless words can be said without intending to hurt someone. Question the individual. Start by giving the person the benefit of the doubt, then ask why the rude speech was made, state what was offensive and make a suggestion of what you would like to hear instead or another suggestion to correct it.

Reach for a higher standard of communication. Don’t fight rude speech with rude speech. Try addressing the issue, try humor, try space, try to raise the culture of their communication by leading by example.

—Clean Up Dallas with Culture and Kindness


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