Simple Ways To Deal With Rude People

Pretty much all of us have been in the awkward situation of having to deal with a rude person. It can be particularly difficult to know what to do — especially when there's the added frustration of social politics in play. In the workplace, for instance, no one wants to be seen as the person who can't get along with their co-workers. And when it comes to our personal lives, it can be awkward trying to deal with a bad-tempered friend or family member. In many cases, it feels like the best course of action is to just stay quiet. But often, that does nothing to actually solve anything.


If you're struggling with an insolent person in your life who repeatedly has no manners around you, know that you're not helpless. There are several actionable ways to deal with rude people no matter what your personality. Next time someone is attempting to take advantage of your kindness, try one of these strategies to get the respect you deserve without having to stoop to their level. 

Turn your body away from them

It's tempting to feel pressured to fire back verbally at someone who's being rude to you. But it's not always necessary. Sometimes, body language can signal to the other person you aren't comfortable with their problematic behavior. In a TikTok video, therapist @Ask_Kimberly recommended physically turning your body away from the person disrespecting you. This will subconsciously demonstrate that you're closing yourself off to them and their treatment of you. She also recommended resisting the urge to make fists, which can come off as aggressive, and, instead, advised keeping your hands open. 


"When someone is consistently rude, they are almost always looking for a dopamine hit. When they unload on you, it actually feels really good for them, especially if they see you physically deflate," she explained. She added of changing your body position in the way, "It actually asserts your true dominance and deprives them of the dopamine hit they want, so they get zero satisfaction."

Think (and take deep breaths) before you react

However you decide to react to rudeness, one of the best things you can do it take your time. Though it's tempting to react quickly, you'd be doing yourself a favor to avoid a potentially irrational, knee-jerk response. Georgina Cannon, an author and counselor, told Thrive Global that taking a few deep breaths and really considering your response will help you have the best response. "I take a deep breath, feel where their words resonate in my body (heart or gut), and remember my values list which leads me to my 'best self,'" she explained of how she deals with rude people.


Next time someone is rude to you, take a few seconds to pause before responding. How long you pause in this situation is totally up to you. Just make sure you've had enough time to really think things through and you can see a way of resolving the situation without burning bridges with people you'd like to keep in your life. 

Tell them how their behavior makes you feel

You may find the best approach when it comes to that rude person is to call them out. Especially if this someone you spend a lot of time with. The reason why this works is because you don't want to give this person a pass to treat you poorly over and over again or to have them think you can't stand your ground. After all, as Amy Jen Su, Paravis Partners' managing partner, put it while speaking to Harvard Business Review, "Letting the behavior go will only lead to bigger problems down the road." She was speaking specifically about rudeness in the workplace, but, really, the sentiment is the same when dealing with someone who you don't have the freedom to cut ties with. 


If you do decide to raise the issue, just make sure you're doing it the right way. Responding back with rudeness won't help, as the situation is only likely to escalate. Instead, the key is to lead with a blend of firmness and kindness. Gently sit the person down, explain how their behavior has made you feel. Tell them you won't tolerate the disrespect going forward. This will keep you from burning bridges, while also enabling you to set important boundaries so they'll think twice before being disrespectful again. After all, it's a good idea to put boundaries in place early, especially at work.

Ask if they're doing okay

We're often used to thinking of confrontation as calling out someone's behavior in a manner that shames them. But it doesn't have to be that way. While speaking to CNBC, etiquette expert Sara Jane Ho recommended asking a rude person, "Are you okay?"  The great thing about asking a question is that it prompts the other person to look inward and assess their own behavior, rather than making you the bad guy. In some cases, the other person may not even realize they are being rude. 


"[It's] not being offensive back. [It's] coming from a place of care and that is usually to put the other person in check," Ho explained to CNBC. This question also opens up a safe dialogue for the person being rude to potentially apologize. Perhaps they've had a stressful morning and their emotions are coming through them being short with you. It may not be an excuse, but knowing the person's reason for their behavior could help you better work through the situation together.


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♬ original sound – Ask Kimberly

TikTok therapist @Ask_Kimberly recommended trying this method as well. In a video posted to the social media site, she explained, "Asking questions calls out the behavior and brings attention to how ridiculous it is, making them look stupid." She added that once you start asking questions about the way someone is acting, it will draw more attention to it. With that, the person will become more aware of themselves and may start feeling some shame or guilt over the way they've treated you.

Get other people involved

At work, navigating poor behavior can be particularly tricky, especially when it involves people in different positions of power. Don't be afraid of getting another person involved if that's the case, whether it's an immediate supervisor or an HR personnel. This will increase the chances of the problem being solved professionally. You'll also get someone else's objective perspective on the situation, giving you a better idea of how to handle any behavioral issues or bad manners in the future.


"You should approach the HR team to seek advice and raise awareness," Nurit Shiber of the software company Axonius told Forbes. How the situation is handled will then give you a clear idea of the environment you're in. "If this is not treated seriously, this may be the time to consider if this is the right place for you," Shiber explained.

Bringing someone else into the situation also takes the pressure off you to deal with the rude person on your own. It also creates a record of the incidents between you both, so you're less likely to find yourself in he said/she said situations down the line.

Consider why the person is being rude to you and personalize your response

In order to determine the best response to the rudeness you're subjected to, try considering exactly why the person is behaving like that and how it fits with their personality. This will be easier when it comes to people you know well, like friends or family. By doing this, you'll be able to better tailor your response to the specific person, rather than reacting to the general situation.


Dr. John Mayer, a clinical psychologist at Doctor On Demand, told NBC that some people use rudeness as a coping mechanism. Some people may have poor emotional regulation skills, but the more you know how someone copes in hard situations, the better equipped you'll be to help them. "When you understand people's coping mechanisms you distance yourself from possibly getting into conflict with that person, as you will be leaving them to their coping mechanisms and not expecting them to be different," he explained.

Though this response will vary depending on who you're dealing with, there are a few more general, common sense notions you can abide by. For example, if you know someone likes time alone to think after confrontation, walk away and let them cool down. If the rude person is known for being affectionate and likes to talk and really open up, stick around and give them the chance to explain where their rudeness stems from.


Be open to apologies

As many of us know, rudeness often stems from someone's personal situation rather than them having an actual issue with you. But there are occasions where you may need to hold your hands up and admit you could have played a part in why someone was being disrespectful. If you think your actions may have accidentally (or otherwise) upset someone, be willing to apologize and explain where you were coming from. Having an open conversation like this will help to keep the situation under control so it doesn't escalate into something it doesn't need to. Keep in mind this isn't about people-pleasing or avoiding difficult conversations. Rather, it's a chance to look at your own behavior before judging someone else.


You may even find that if you're open to an apology on your end, the person being rude may feel more comfortable apologizing to you too. After all, apologies are super important when it comes to social situations that could very easily explode in conflict. You may even find that saying sorry furthers your relationship with the person and makes you both better people. As Dr. Susan Krauss Whitbourne explained to NBC, when it comes to ditching rude habits, "Apologies and seeking forgiveness are very important for mental health."

Sometimes, no response is the best response

If you would rather not deal with confronting a rude person, there is one final option: Do nothing at all. When someone is being disrespectful, be it a stranger or toxic family member, sometimes, the most effective way to respond is by not dignifying their behavior with an action. Sara Jane Ho told CNBC this can often be the best option, noting, "Oftentimes, I feel like when people are being rude the best thing is to just not say anything. Let everyone wallow, and let them wallow in their misbehavior."


Ignoring the behavior is a move also championed by @Ask_Kimberly. They shared in a TikTok video that, sometimes, no response is the best response because the rude person probably isn't expecting you to ignore them. She recommended taking a deep breath and staying quiet, explaining, "This makes them feel deeply unsettled and puts them off their game right off the bat." And with that, you could be saying goodbye to someone's rude side with very little effort.