Are you rude? Am I rude? In my efforts to get things done quickly or to assert my rights, I suspect that sometimes I come across as an abrupt, rude individual. This is hard for me to admit, especially publicly. But I happen to notice that many of us are this way, whether we realize it or not. We all have moments where we lose our temper or push our ways, not showing our best, classy self. Our society overall is quite rude. But that shouldn’t be our excuse, our norm.
Why? It’s a miserable way to live, for one. More importantly, our children look to us for THE example. Our spouses have to live with us. Our families are deeply affected by our rudeness. What about friends? Strangers? Do we have varying degrees of rudeness, depending on whom we’re addressing? These are tough questions to ask. But I challenge YOU to do a self-assessment and make changes. Ask yourself, “Am I the problem? Am I often rude?”
How do you react when someone tells you no?
Do you get upset, or do you consider the answer carefully? Do you try to see both sides and seek a compromise? I’m like most people and don’t like to be told no, but that IS the answer sometimes. It’s okay to respectively try for a compromise. But you can’t pitch a fit and DEMAND that you get your way. We can’t model that behavior for our kids.
Are you a rude, frustrated driver?
Do you flip people off, swear, and blare your horn often? Maybe occasionally? Do you have backseat drivers watching you? Even if you don’t, perhaps other cars around you do, and those children see your behavior.
Do you often badger a store clerk or demand to see a manager?
How often do you do this? Weekly? Monthly? It’s okay to question a store employee or ask politely to see a manager. But if you’re doing this a lot, it’s too much. And if you’re usually rude about it, it’s not okay. Why? What are you accomplishing? Are you trying to prove your point? Consider that store employees often don’t get paid much; plus they’re human too. If you want them to help you, ask nicely and be patient. Try for a win-win scenario. The customer ISN’T always right. That’s a poor phrase that never should have started. Of course, we’re all wrong at times.
Do you get angry with school leaders and teachers?
Your child’s education is extremely important, and you are most definitely their advocate. There may be times when you have to be assertive about educational needs. But if you’re often upset and demanding, you’re NOT your child’s BEST advocate. They may be “entitled” to special accommodations on their IEP or 504, but if those accommodations are unrealistic for 1 teacher with 30 students to accomplish, then you’ll need to strive for something that is doable–for both sides. And please don’t expect that your child’s education is something the state or this great country owes you. Be a contributor. Volunteer and donate when you can. Parents have to be involved and supportive in order for their child’s education to be a success.
Do people avoid being around you?
Have you tried connecting with others, only to have them not return calls or messages? Do you post controversial or inappropriate things online? If you only have a few people who like your posts or who reach out to you regularly, you might be a “wet blanket.” You can change your behaviors and make friends. It’s never too late, but it will take time. Research some articles online or find books at the library to help you get started. Or ask a trusting friend for feedback–and truly listen.
Do you always need to be right?
I’ll be blunt. People don’t like people who think they are always right. Why? Because NO ONE is ALWAYS right. Avoid sharing controversial opinions in friendship gatherings. In general, steer clear of discussing politics and religion. You can have your opinions, but you don’t need to share them at every opportunity. Learn how to calmly agree to disagree. And if you’re online, just don’t comment if you see something that doesn’t agree with you. Leave that to those who are really good communicators and who can share an opinion effectively. It does no good to share a stubborn opinion poorly; you won’t change anyone’s mind, and you won’t “win” the argument.
Is your schedule more important than others’ schedules?
I hate to break it to you, but it’s not. We all lead busy lives. If you are in a hurry, politely say so, but don’t be too upset if others can’t accommodate you right away. Reschedule for when you are less rushed.
How often do you do things for others?
Daily? Weekly? Rarely? We all get busy in our own lives and with our own families. But others aren’t likely to include us if we don’t include them. You don’t have to do huge acts of kindness to make a difference, but it’s important to look around and see who needs a little help. At some point, we all need the help. Ignoring others’ needs is not only rude, it can really hurt them–and ultimately you.
Do you tend to smile or scowl at others?
Or do you generally avoid eye contact? And I’m not talking about autism-sensory issues here. If you’re not on the spectrum, you should look at people’s faces when you’re talking. Even if you are on the spectrum, you can still quickly glance up and say, hi. Then go on with things. Train yourself to do this; it’s not a staring contest. Just politely acknowledge the other person’s presence with a smile. You’ll notice a difference in the way others treat you. If you’re unsure how often you make eye contact with others, try monitoring yourself for a day. Be mindful and make a conscious effort. It doesn’t take much time to greet another person. Even strangers and the homeless will return smiles; in fact, it may be the best thing you can give them that day.
Do you tend to make excuses?
Don’t. Own up to your mistakes. I have a habit of running late, and my husband accepts no excuses. Every time it happens, he reminds me that being late is rude. He’s right about that, and over the years I’ve learned to do better. A few months ago, I did arrive late to a medical appointment, and I had valid reasons. Mainly, the GPS lead me astray–by several miles, and I had never visited the place before. I did tell the receptionist what happened, but I also told her it was still my fault and if they couldn’t accommodate my appointment, I totally understood. She said I might have to wait up to 2 hours before they could slip me in. I told her I would stay as long as I could and thanked her for her efforts. Fortunately, they were able to see me in less than 15 minutes, and all went well. This fortunate outcome isn’t always the case, but either way, I wanted to look like a kind, classy lady.
I want to publicly admit that I have BOMBED some public, social scenarios, but I think I’ve gotten better over the years. I try really hard, mainly because it totally ruins my day when I’m rude to someone. And I don’t ever want to be callous to that.
We Can Overcome Rudeness
I have two children still at home; both are young and impressionable. I want them to see how to respectfully interact in calm, polite, productive ways. In life, we will all have encounters with others. Some of them will be disasters beyond our control. I can’t control, for instance, how someone else will react to a situation in which I am a part. But I can ALWAYS control my reaction–even if I have to simply walk away.
Our kids need to see good behavior from their parents. It’s so vital. They see so much of the opposite in today’s world and in today’s world leaders. Let them see kindness from you–the parents who shape their behavior the most.
So how did you do with these 10 questions? Are you rude? A lot? Sometimes? Admittance is the first step, right? You might like to do my 30-day Kindness Challenge. It’s full of simple, meaningful ways to make a difference. I also lead a free Doing Better Daily group on Facebook. Feel free to join us at any time. Together, we tackle daily goals and interests throughout the year, each of us participating at our own level, contributing great ideas to keep us all going.
What are other ways you can recognize rudeness and change the behavior?