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Self Care When Dealing With Rude People

Self Care When Dealing With Rude People

Rudeness is on the rise. Recent events have tensions at an all-time high, people are stressed, and tempers are short. Even many normally even-keeled folks are struggling.

When every public outing these days seems to be punctuated by some form of rudeness, we need to safeguard our sense of wellbeing so we don’t end up becoming a rude person ourselves.

Here are five steps for self care when dealing with rude people:

Notice, name, and allow.

When someone is rude to us, it’s natural to feel strong emotions, even if it’s a relatively minor incident.

Pause for a moment and notice what you’re feeling. Name it as specifically as possible: is it anger? embarrassment? indignation? Whatever you’re experiencing, you didn’t choose it, and it’s a perfectly valid emotion given your personal history. However uncomfortable it is, allow it to be there.

Once we understand precisely what we’re feeling, we’re more likely to take constructive (rather than destructive) action. But a lot of us struggle to name our more complex emotions. I’m reading this book by Brené Brown at the moment that has added so many more words to my emotional vocabulary.


Exercise empathy.

I know, I know. This person isn’t concerned with our feelings, so why should we be concerned with theirs? But consider the end result - if we’re rude right back to them, it might feel great in the moment, but it will likely escalate the situation and lower our mood for much longer than if we had responded carefully.

Empathy is like any other skill - the more we practice it, the better at it we become, and the easier it gets. And studies show that cultivating empathy improves our relationships, lowers stress, and reduces burnout. I love Thich Nhat Hanh’s advice on how to think about our anger at a person who has wronged us (though I can't say I've achieved that level of equanimity yet).

Take action.

Emotions are messages telling us to take action. Typically, our first instinct is to make the other person see how they are wrong to treat us so unjustly. But more often than not, it doesn’t work.

I find that when I’m able to let go of the need to be right and instead focus on the aspects of the situation that are under my direct control (especially my boundaries), I tend to respond more skillfully, and in a way that preserves my self-respect. Struggle Care has so much great content around setting boundaries, but this is one of my favourite clips.

Burn it off.

So we’ve identified how the rude person’s behaviour has affected us, done a few empathy reps, and taken action to protect our wellbeing. But our body is still reacting, and stress hormones are getting us ready to fight or flee.

Since we probably didn’t physically lash out or run away from the rude person, we need to find another way to burn off those stress hormones. Go for a walk (maybe a dance walk?), do a few jumping jacks, or move in whatever way feels good. (I like the Daily Move videos in the Calm App.)

Reward yourself.

You handled that rude person like a boss, avoided adding more rudeness to the world, and preserved your self-respect and sense of wellbeing to boot. If that doesn’t deserve a reward, I don’t know what does! Treat yourself to a funny video, a phone call with a friend who always boosts your mood, or a bubble bath, and congratulate yourself on a job well done.



Debra Purdy is the owner of ShopEco, a self care and gift boutique located in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Her mission is to help you thrive through self care you can feel good about. For more self care tips delivered to your inbox and a special birthday treat, click here to subscribe.

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    Natalie - February 28, 2022

    Enjoyed the read.
    A moment of thought, I believe it is important to work from a position of respectful curiosity.

    I believe it is important to refrain from labelling a person by their behaviour. Most of us are doing the best we can. Sometimes we are not shiny stars. When we label a person by their behaviour ‘rude people’, it may prevent us from moving past the behaviour towards the person behind it. This is the key to building healthy relationships with our community.

    Victoria - February 28, 2022

    I love this blog post. I have come across more of these situations now more than ever! I tend to swallow my feelings just to avoid the situation but these tips seems more like a more healthy way to deal with the stress and anxiety of people’s current irrational state. I am very exciting to read Atlas of the Heart by Brene Brown. Thank you for letting me know I am not alone in my feelings.

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