A woman dealing with a rude person by staying calm.

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Are you tired of people who are disrespectful to you? Do you want to know how to deal with rude people? 

Not everyone is going to be nice to you in life. Unfortunately, you can’t always avoid rude people, as they may be your coworkers or family members. That’s why you need to be smart about how you handle them so they don’t get under your skin.

Keep reading to learn how to deal with rude people the right way.

1. Adapt to Their Communication Style

In Surrounded by Idiots, communication expert, business consultant, and author Thomas Erikson offers a framework for understanding the people who perplex us the most. His framework also helps those who want to know how to deal with rude people.

Erikson discusses four personality types in terms of colors: Red, Yellow, Green, and Blue. He refers to people by personality type as Red people, Yellow people, and so on. Erikson’s color model is based on the DISC personality-type model, which categorizes people as Dominant, Inspiring, Stable, or Compliant. Erikson explains, color-by-color, how to adapt to, persuade, and work with other personality types. If any of these personality types are being rude to you, you’ll know how to communicate with them so conflict won’t ensue.

How to Deal With a Red Personality: Erikson says when a Red-dominant person feels stressed, they lash out and blame others, and their driven nature and high expectations intensify. They will shut everyone out, put their head down, and complete all of the work by themself. You can help alleviate his stress by excusing him from the office and encouraging him to engage in physical activity.

How to Deal With a Yellow Personality: Erikson says Yellow personality types tend to dominate every conversation, and other personality types struggle to get a word in edgewise. They are often late and frequently forget deadlines and appointments, which is inconsiderate of your time. If they’re negatively talking over you or disrupting your schedule, help lead the conversation productively and keep them on track. 

How to Deal With a Green Personality: These types of people often talk about people behind their backs because they want to avoid conflict. If they’re talking about you, gently confront them about how you feel about it. Make sure you lay it on them gently so you don’t hurt their feelings. 

How to Deal With a Blue Personality: These types of people may double down on pessimism when stressed and point out every single mistake, including yours. Erikson recommends you give them space if they’re being rude to you. They need time away from everyone else to sort through the situation and make a new plan. 

2. Stay Neutral

In The Laws of Human Nature, Robert Greene says people who are hostile view the world as being constantly against them. To deal with this, they become hostile so that they’re the source of the emotion and have more control of it. They unconsciously provoke hostility in others—for example, by being late—and this confirms their attitude that the world is hostile. They want to feel attacked and want revenge.

The hostile attitude typically stems from one or both of the following childhood experiences:

  • The parents were abusive or punishing.
  • The child interpreted becoming independent from their parents as a forced, hostile separation.

You can identify people with hostile attitudes by the following characteristics:

  • They get angry easily.
  • According to them, their life is full of back-stabbing, persecuting, and combative people, and they never deserve it.
  • They usually struggle professionally.

Greene’s advice on how to deal with rude people is to not let them provoke you into hostility. Your neutrality will confuse them and leave them unable to retaliate against you.

If you see any signs of a hostile attitude in yourself, whenever you meet someone, think positive thoughts about them. For example, imagine that you like them before you start talking. Probably, you’ll notice that they’re not doing anything negative, which shows that the hostility you usually experience stems from you.

3. Lessen Their Power Over You

According to The Asshole Survival Guide by Robert I. Sutton, when a lot of interaction with a jerk is inevitable, you can lessen the jerk’s power over your mental state by changing your mindset. In doing so, you can protect yourself from the negative effects of their behavior even if you’re frequently exposed. 

Sutton says the best way to deal with rude people is through the cognitive behavioral technique of reframing—taking a negative thought and reworking it into something more neutral or positive. Reframing is based on the psychological premise that your thoughts dictate how you feel and act. If you can change your thoughts about a situation—like a jerk’s rude behavior—then you can change how you respond. 

Focus on What You Can Learn

Sutton offers a couple of ways to reframe jerk behavior so it mentally affects you less. First, try focusing on anything you might gain from your interactions with the jerk. Is there a bright side to the situation you can find? If you can find a positive element, it can help you look back at a situation and feel better about it or get through a long-term connection with a rude, disrespectful person. 

For example, maybe your boss seems nice at first but turns out to be emotionally manipulative and narcissistic with poor personal boundaries. The bright side of that situation might be that your experience with this boss taught you the warning signs of narcissistic, abusive behavior. Therefore, you can more easily avoid working with similar people in the future.

Find a Way to Empathize

Alternatively, you might try finding a way to empathize with the jerk so you can eventually forgive them. Research shows that forgiveness benefits the person who was hurt because it allows them to move on from the situation. Forgiving thoughts can lessen the physiological stress response and alleviate sadness and anger. This doesn’t mean accepting or excusing the jerk’s behavior—it just means letting go of your resentment toward it, which only hurts you. 

For example, say your fellow supervisor frequently yells at her employees, and this causes morale problems among the staff. Your higher-ups won’t do anything about it, so you have to continue working with her. Instead of developing a simmering resentment toward her, you try to empathize with the fact that she felt she had to become aggressive to work her way up through the company, even if she’s misguided. This allows you to forgive (though not excuse) her shortcomings and work with her productively. 

4. Stop Hanging Out With Them

If you spend a lot of time with people who stress you out or aren’t supportive, you’re less likely to achieve success. The Success Principles by Jack Canfield says to spend time with people who uplift you, support and nurture your dreams, have a positive attitude, and are successful. This way, you don’t even have to deal with rude people because they’re not in your life.

To start surrounding yourself with supportive people, identify those who are negative and hold you back. Here’s how:

  1. Write down all of the people you spend time with regularly. Consider family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, people in your church, etc.
  2. Write a (+) next to people if they’re positive and support you or a (-) if they’re negative and don’t support you. Besides not being supportive, negative people like to complain, and they see themselves as perpetual victims. You might notice that most of the negative people belong to one group. For example, maybe your coworkers have toxic attitudes.
  3. Spend less time with the negative people. Instead, surround yourself with positive people.

You can find supportive, successful people in many places. Try the following:

  • Volunteer for leadership roles in an organization you care about.
  • Join civic groups like Rotary International.
  • Join a country club.
  • Attend conferences in your field.
  • Join professional clubs or societies in your field.

5. Go on the Offensive

Finally, The Asshole Survival Guide states that sometimes, the only way to deal with rude people is to go on the offensive against them. This might mean confronting them directly or getting people with more power than you to address their behavior. 

Whatever your method, tread carefully—if the jerk finds out that you’re moving against them, they might retaliate and cause more problems for you. Therefore, it’s important to pause, consider your options, and ask for input from others before making any decisions about your approach. There are three primary considerations to address before you decide how to go against the jerk:

Consideration #1: How much influence does the jerk have over you? The more control they have, the more careful you need to be.

Consideration #2: Do you have concrete evidence to support your claims against the jerk? The more documentation you have of their bad behavior—such as emails, text messages, notes, videos, and so on—the more credible you’ll seem. This prevents the issue from devolving into your word against theirs.

Consideration #3: Are there other people who can join in confronting the jerk? The more people you have supporting you, the more influence and credibility you have.

Here are two of Sutton’s specific strategies for combating jerk behavior directly: 

Calmly Explain the Problem With Their Behavior

In some instances, calmly pulling the person exhibiting rude behavior aside and explaining how they’re negatively affecting everyone else can halt the worst of the problems. This strategy is best used for people who generally have good intentions and aren’t aware that their behavior is hurting others. 

For example, say your coworker frequently makes others feel stupid by shooting them down when they ask questions or make suggestions. You’re friends, so you pull him aside to let him know that he’s offended many people with his attitude. He’s taken aback and embarrassed by unknowingly hurting others, and he promises to be more conscious of his tone and approach in the future.

Harness the Power of Humor and Sarcasm

For jerks who won’t respond well to a calm, direct approach, Sutton suggests using humor and sarcasm to more subtly put them in their place. Using humor allows you to hit back at their behavior with your own insults while still being socially acceptable. It takes away some of their power when people can laugh at them and shows that you’ll push back against them. However, be careful with this tactic, as it can start a dangerous cycle of mudslinging between you and the jerk. They might want to get you back if you humiliate them.

For example, say you’re assigned to work with a notorious bully on a project, and she immediately starts changing your work without your permission. You might confront her by saying, in front of your manager and the rest of the team, “Hey, I noticed you’ve been very interested in my work lately—changing it and deleting it. I appreciate your enthusiasm, and I’m sorry to disappoint you, but your attempts are futile. You see, I have a secret weapon that protects my work from your changes: It’s called version history.” This approach maintains levity while undermining her and exposing her bad behavior to everyone else.

Final Words

Rude and inconsiderate people are everywhere, from customers at a store to classmates at school. Learning to live with them will make things easier at work, school, and in life, generally. By implementing the above strategies on how to deal with rude people, you’ll be able to deal with toxic people in a healthier way.

Do you have any tips on how to deal with rude people? Let us know in the comments below!

How to Deal With Rude People: 5 Ways to Handle Toxicity

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Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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