How to Respond to Rudeness

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 19,473
    Dr. P.M. Forni shares tips on how to respond to rudeness.


    M. Forni: Hi! This is P.

    M. Forni of Johns Hopkins University and the author of The Civility Solution. Today we are talking about what to do when people are rude. And in the next section we are going to talk about how to respond to rudeness.

    How do you prepare to face rudeness? Well, by thinking. For instance, you are at work, you are going to be in a meeting in half an hour, go over in your mind the people that are going to be present at the meeting. Are there going to be people who are problematic in their behavior with whom you have had spats in the past? Who have been rude to you or hostile, who are opposing as in just a matter of fact your proposals at work. If you do that and you prepared yourself, okay, if John is going to say that, I am going to be ready to answer this in this other way. That is going to be very good, it is going to be -- it will give you an edge. So, preparation is a major factor of success both in your private life and your life at work.

    When someone treats you rudely, there is a very simple sequence of three steps that you can take in order to cope effectively with that act of rudeness that is coming your way. It is the SIR, the sir sequence. Sir as in state, inform and request. So for instance, your spouse came home two hours late without calling you on the phone. So you state the fact, you came home two hours late without calling. Then you inform your spouse of what the behavior did to you. When you do that you make me think that you dont value my time and its really a problem for me. And then you request. I really trust that starting now you will not do that anymore and when you are late, you will call.

    So the focus is not on how bad the other person was. You dont say, you are the most obnoxious bore on the face of the earth. But the focus is on the behavior itself and what it did to you and you are not berating the other person, you are not being overly accusatory. You are simply presenting the facts, what the facts did to you and your request that a change will come.

    In many cases, people who have been rude to you will try to minimize what happens and they will say something along the lines of, you are making too much of a small thing. Well, you can answer, its not so small to me evidently. Let me be the judge of how big or small the thing is. Or they may say something along the lines of, I didnt mean anything, I didnt mean to offend you, I didnt mean to hurt you. And the answer is, but you offended me nevertheless, you hurt me nevertheless. Do you think that I have the right to feel the way I feel?

    So it is natural for the other person to minimize of what happened and to minimize their responsibility. But it is entirely up to you to what extent you want to accept that. And you can really stand firm in your assertiveness and speaking up and saying, listen, this was not called for and I dont want this to happen again.