Mental Health Training

Why are People Rude? by Jane McNeice

Posted by on 13 Jul, 2021 in Mental Health |

Why are People Rude? by Jane McNeice

Definitions of rude centre around behaviours that are not regarded as acceptable, pleasant, or are ill-mannered. Given global and cultural differences, some of this can be defined as what is acceptable within the culture in which we reside. Outside of what we accept in our culture, we regard as rude.

There are a few other considerations in this picture. It isn’t just in the delivery, i.e. the person being rude to us, it is also about how we are feeling at the time and how we have chosen to interpret the behaviour, and it’s important to remember the only element of the picture that we have any control over is our response.

But why are people rude in the first place? Well, very often, rudeness is a reflection of how the person being rude feels inside. Feelings of low self-worth may feed inadequacy, stress, learned behaviour, life difficulties, self-loathing and many other negative thoughts and feelings. Sometimes there is so much self-hate that the person is simply trying to confirm and validate those thoughts through their behaviour, which in theory is likely if we respond negatively back to the person.

So, our response is the only element we can control, and we have choices. Some of these choices may cease our exposure to the rudeness, some create an opportunity to ease another’s pain, and some turn the tide and ripple out positively beyond the two people concerned. There are no guarantees because we cannot control other people’s response, only our own, and this we must accept. But let us look at some of our choices:

  1. Question whether the behaviour is culturally explainable and not actually rudeness at all, simply difference across cultures.
  2. Question whether the person is neurodiverse – are they on the Autistic spectrum? Do they have social interaction and communication difficulties which may result in their behaviour appearing rude when it is not intended to. Are you expecting someone who is neurodiverse to be neurotypical when they are not?
  3. Walk away, remove ourselves from the situation and the person. We can choose not to be exposed to the rude behaviour for longer than we want to be.
  4. Try to find out why a person feels this way, hear their story and possibly their pain – be empathic. Listening can be enough; it is not passive, it is an active response of high impact support, especially when done well and combined with understanding and empathy.
  5. Remind yourself of the reasons which may be behind someone’s rudeness. The person could be seeking human connection in the only way they know how and feel able to. The way humans seek connection is not always by reaching out in healthy ways.
  6. Overpower the rudeness with kindness. Ever heard the phrase “you can’t fight fire with fire.” It takes greater strength and control to maintain the kindness position, the easiest response is to retort rudely back at the person, but it does not usually bring about a positive resolution. But here is the thing, kindness has an added value – it spreads, people see it, many people learn from it and mimic it elsewhere, they become kinder and so on and so forth. The ripple effect no less.

Please don’t let rudeness lessen who you are. Remember your response is in your control, no one else’s. Be the change you want to see in others.

If you’d like to understand more about supporting others in healthy and positive ways which support theirs and your own mental health, check out some of the training courses that we offer at Mind Matters.