How wonderful it would be to simply let rude people bounce off of us. To react calmly and confidently. Most of us, however, don’t succeed in doing so. We fire back when we’re attacked.
The problem is that even though lashing out may feel good at the moment, it only leads to temporary satisfaction. In the long run, both parties end up with negative emotions. Two people were rude to each other, and two people resorted to the lowest common denominator.
But how can one respond to aggressive and rude people with grace? These seven techniques can help.
1. “Your Bad Mood Stays With You” Technique
The first step in responding to rude people with confidence and calmness is to realize that their rudeness has nothing to do with you. Perhaps the other person had a fight with their partner earlier in the day, or is feeling overwhelmed with work, or has personal problems. Understanding that their bad behavior is a result of their own circumstances can help you remain detached and not take it personally.
Tell yourself, ‘You’re in a bad mood, and that stays with you.’ This way, you can respond much more calmly and not perceive the rudeness as a personal attack. By separating the other person’s behavior from your own identity, you maintain your own peace of mind.
2. “What Would [Michelle] Do?” Technique
How would you like to be? Fiery like Klaus Kinski? Calm like the Dalai Lama? Elegant like Audrey Hepburn? Casual and strong like Michelle Obama?
Having a clear image of how you want to be is helpful. Do you want to be someone who quickly becomes angry when attacked or someone who remains calm and composed in their response? Find someone you admire and ask yourself, ‘What would XY do now?’ By considering the actions of someone you look up to, you can respond in a way that aligns with your values and desired persona.
Michelle Obama once said, with reference to Donald Trump’s indecency: “When they go low, we go high.” Freely translated: “When others behave badly, we respond with decency and style.” Such sentences can serve as anchors. Find a motto that suits you. It can help you react the way you want to in difficult situations and become more quick-witted.
3. “Hyper-Polite” Technique
The technique of “Hyper-Politeness”: Smile at the other person, perhaps address them formally (even if they previously addressed you informally), and respond without any aggression – this can be incredibly disarming. The politer you are, the more obvious it is how unfriendly the other person is.
The ‘Hyper-polite’ technique – Smiling at the other person, addressing them politely (even if they addressed you informally before), and responding without any aggression can be incredibly disarming. The politer you are, the more apparent it becomes how unfriendly the other person is. This works particularly well in emails. If you receive an impolite email, for example from a customer, then consciously respond politely. Usually, the other person will calm down. Because someone who doesn’t react to an attack with a counter-attack, there is no fight to be had with them.
4. “Agreeing In Parts” Technique
When someone barks at you, simply say, “You’re right.” Your opponent probably expected a different answer and is confused.
Of course, you don’t have to agree with everything they say. Look for an aspect that you can agree with. Your opponent is likely to slow down. Because they have realized that you are listening to them and not set for a brawl.
5. “Say What’s Going On” Technique
“I can see that you’re very angry. What exactly is making you so angry?” Try to get this sentence out as calmly and attentively as possible. Because: If you name the obvious, it changes the situation. The other person feels seen and now has to explain why they’re so agitated.
6. “Just Keep Going” Technique
You don’t have to fight every battle. Especially in situations where strangers are barking at you, it’s also possible to just keep going. Leave the other person’s anger where it belongs: with them.
7. “Reset Button” Technique
No matter how hard you try, sometimes you still respond to rudeness. Perhaps you were even the one who was stressed and started complaining.
Then it often helps to take a deep breath and press the reset button. For example, say: “Okay – the last 5 minutes went in the wrong direction. Shall we both start again from the beginning?” Very few people will reject this offer.