Having to deal with difficult conversations and rude people is a reality of life. There will always be situations where we deal with uncomfortable behaviours or attract criticism that we don’t feel is deserved.

The trick here is learning how to deal with rude people, and how to transform a difficult scenario into something positive!

1. Understanding

Rude behaviour usually has some sort of trigger. Rather than going immediately on the defensive, it can help to diffuse a situation and even build a rapport to try and acknowledge what has caused the rudeness you are encountering.

If you can empathise and understand what has happened to cause the situation, it can go a long way to finding a positive resolution together.

Should you feel that you are not responsible for the situation, you can still hear out the problem and try to work on a resolution. Try apologising for the fact that the other person feels upset, and ask if they would like to explain to you what has happened.

Acknowledging another person’s emotions is not an admission of guilt or responsibility and may be all that they need. Even the offer of a cup of tea can go a long way to establishing a more friendly tone!

Shared experience is a powerful communicator. So should you be familiar with the way that the rude person is feeling, it is never a bad idea to share your own recollections. This creates a common bond that helps both parties to recognise that they are speaking with another person who can relate to them.

2. Diffusing the situation

Anger begets anger, and responding aggressively to a rude person is never going to help. Whilst you would never want to make light of a situation where someone is feeling unhappy, if you can find a humorous side to the scenario, it can immediately pour cold water on feelings of frustration.

Even if you are dealing with a rude person who has no intention of making peace, finding humour in the situation from your own perspective can provide closure. Perhaps that person has just had a really tough day. But critical words can sting and leave an invisible but long-lasting mark.

Don’t spend time dwelling on it, but reflect on the often ridiculous side of the situation. Being able to laugh about something is always a way to create a humorous anecdote in your psyche!

3. Seeing rude people as a professional challenge, not a personal one

If you deal with rude people in your line of work, you can use terse dialogues as a way to test and reinforce your professional skills to positively manage and resolve difficult conversations.

Knowing that you have dealt with something similar before empowers you to respond calmly and professionally, without feeling frustrated that you are encountering rude behaviour.

Reflect on the situations you have managed, how you dealt with them, and the success of the outcome. Were it unsuccessful, this is an opportunity to analyse what you might have done differently, and to equip yourself with the skills to make better choices in the future.

4. Taking it on the chin

Dealing with rude people is rarely fun, but interpreting it as a personal criticism or failure only increases the impact of impolite behaviour. Your mental resilience is your personal armour against negative forces. It is an important part of protecting yourself from dwelling on rude people who you may have had to deal with.

Consider how you responded to difficult scenarios and congratulate yourself on having been able to manage them well. This way, you will be better prepared – and better armoured – for the next time you have to deal with a rude exchange.

5. Calling them out

Sometimes, for your own wellbeing, it might just be necessary to call somebody out on his or her rudeness. If there is no potential of resolving the issue or reaching an understanding, it may simply be a situation where somebody is being completely unreasonable.

Particularly if the rude person you are dealing with is somebody you know well, it may be that they haven’t considered the impact of their words or actions, and do not realise how rude their conduct is.

In this scenario, it may be for the best to calmly explain how they are making you feel. Sometimes we can forget the power of our actions, especially to those closest to us. If you are able to explain how you are feeling, and what actions or words have caused this, it might be an eye-opener and prevent any similar problems recurring.

6. Commit – or don’t

Having to deal with rude people is stressful, and repeated exposure to negative behaviour can be toxic. Should you feel increasingly burdened by the mental strain of having to pacify and negotiate with rude people, it is worth considering the impact this is having on you.

It is not always essential to engage with a rude person. They might just be venting, or their annoyance may be misdirected.

Either way, you have the choice of whether you invest your time and energy in the situation, or whether you decide not to. In a place of work, it may be that you do not feel equipped to deal with it. In this case, you might consider asking a colleague or senior member of staff to take over from you. They will probably be pleased to be asked for support and might be able to offer some advice or suggestions about how to manage it.


  1. The Conversation
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  3. Entrepreneur

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