Do you remember the last time someone was intentionally rude to you? How did it make you feel? Did you dwell on it? Did it sit on your mind for a period of time after the exchange was over? Maybe not. Perhaps you’re the type of person who has thick enough skin that other people’s comments simply slide right on off your shoulders. Or maybe you’re in denial. I don’t know, I’m not a therapist or psychologist. But I DO know that most people who say they aren’t affected by rudeness, still are.
To be rude is defined as being offensively impolite or ill-mannered. The best example that comes to mind is several months ago when I pulled out into traffic into the path of an oncoming vehicle (allegedly). The person took active steps to follow me to a red light and went on to call me by a plethora of inappropriate names and insult me for cutting him off. To this day, I can neither confirm nor deny that I ACTUALLY cut him off, as it’s not my nature to go pulling out into traffic if there’s a risk of a collision. But whether he pulled into my lane or was speeding or I DID cut him off, I can’t be responsible for other people’s perception.
So, why are people rude? Rudeness breeds suffering, the elimination of which is at the very heart of my beliefs, yet it seems that people do it with impunity. As much as we often don’t like to think so, many of us are rude to others in the way we interact with others, the things we say and the things we do. Sometimes this rudeness happens without our knowledge that we are doing it.
Most of us spend our childhood being taught by our parents (and grandparents) that’s it’s wrong to be rude, disrespectful even. But as we reach adulthood, a sense of entitlement often makes us disregard those teachings in relation to how we interact with others and how we treat them. Although none of this is anything new, it’s important to remember not to escalate the situation or reciprocate the behaviour.
A person’s behaviour, whether rude or not, will often be rooted in their own self-esteem and perspectives. That person who bumps into you in a public place without apologizing may be going through something that actively occupies their thoughts. There’s a good chance they weren’t even aware they bumped into you. The person who screams or swears at you in public for taking a parking space or possibly cutting them off in traffic has likely forgotten about you ten minutes later and the interaction isn’t worth the stress you allow yourself to feel as a result.
As difficult as it may be to smile and walk away sometimes, rudeness is one of those behaviours that feeds on itself. If you let someone’s rudeness get to you, you’ll likely be rude to someone else and so on and so forth. Kindness is the best reaction to rudeness and walking away from the situation is always best. Don’t contribute to the suffering in the world. Light knows, there’s enough of it as it is. After all, you can only control your own words and actions; never those of others. ☯