We've all met rude people. I've always taken it as a sign of weakness. In the last week alone:
Are people like that being assertive? Honest? Or just taking advantage of situations to vent their frustration at people who don't deserve it? (That's my take.)
Not honest, assertive, or frustrated ... self-important, entitled and obnoxious.
Or insecure, masquerading as self-important, entitled and obnoxious. While some people live to tear others down, in my experience it's more a matter of people who are insecure pretending they're better than others in order to boost their own fragile ego.
Showing subtle but directed pity (often just a look will do) works better than anger, especially if they can feel it, which only annoys them more because they realize you can see through the facade. I'm not saying I do it in spite, just once in a while when warranted to say I see what you're doing and have no time for it. Let's move along.
I'll be a little bit kinder.
Rudeness can be defined two different ways. One is a lack of manners. The other is the ignoring of manners.
A lack of manners is forgivable, because it is genuine ignorance. The person doesn't *know* how to behave properly, and is stumbling through it. Fair enough, we've all been in this situation before, and so long as they're trying, it's no big deal.
A purposeful ignoring of manners, on the other hand, is a different story, entirely. That's done intentionally. And, usually with a goal in mind.
Again, as with so many things, it's a tool. There are *reasons* to be rude to someone which are completely legitimate and appropriate. But, they're few and far between.
I don't think, as you posit, that it's always and exclusively a way to take advantage of others...though it could certainly be used to that advantage.
You're right, Will (below) as well. I guess I wasn't talking about a lack of manners - rather, the more aggressive form of rudeness.
Well, the more aggressive form is just a purposeful ignoring of manners. As I said, this is usually done for a reason.
I view rudeness as a tool, and leave it, along with politeness, kindness, generosity, etc on the table. The idea is to use the tools that are appropriate for any situation.
Rudeness is rarely appropriate. But, to take it off the table, unnecessarily, is foolish.
It's very possible to be assertive without being rude ("Waiter? We still need silverware"). And it's possible to be rude without being assertive (griping w/o saying what you want instead). They don't relate.
I do take them as a sign of weakness, and also of lack of awareness. Perhaps a lack of awareness of where I stop and someone else begins. A lack of awareness of what the other party's doing versus what drama is being played out in my own head.
Me: "I understand there are difficulties, but I know people do this. Let's focus on how to solve the problem."
K: "Don't get pissy with me."
I tried to make peace with K, but all I could get back was how awful I was and it was all my fault he was upset. He was living a drama in his head in which I was oppressing him, and he was only defending himself. If I didn't say the lines he had for me in that drama, he imagined I meant them. This happens so regularly I think it's a basic part of human nature: people need their dramas.
I think this style of drama is the usual justification for rude behavior. When I'm tempted to be rude, it's the same thing: I've got a drama in which the other party is to blame and deserves to have me say nasty things.
An exception: I have used rudeness in a calculated manner, when nothing else would get somebody out of my hair. I think I've done this once. But I'd have preferred another option. So maybe that was a sign of weakness, or at least ignorance, as well.
If I had to put math to it, I'd say that four times out of five, someone is rude to people not because that person earned it. For example, someone is habitually rude to service people because he's tired of being pushed around, and service people are unlikely to push back.
This "K" you describe clearly wasn't defensive because you provoked him, but someone did, at some point; he lost that exchange, and is still fighting it.
Have I been rude? Yep. I was usually embarrassed with myself as a result. With the occasional exception, when I felt deliberately provoked.
Fear and cowardice.
I briefly had to cross train with airline ticket agents. I could not believe the endless string of ridiculously rude and silly complaints that they had to put up with such as: "I can't believe that you only have a water fountain, a bathroom faucet, and bottled water - what is my little dog Fi-Fi going to drink!" These agents are teflon coated troopers. At first I wondered if these rude little people just figured that past TSA this was about the only place in Alaska people were not packing so they could be rude. As I watched them though I saw that they were just using their rudeness to hide their terror of flying. As a pilot it took a long time to realize that so many people are afraid of flying of all things.
I have seen some people, mostly females, who seem to mistake loud rudeness for strength and polite manners for weakness.
Good point; someone who starts from a place of agitation is likely to be cranky. But not habitually rude.
The habitually rude person starts from a place of agitation as well, I've observed; or of depression, or of lifelong anger. They clearly feel some little victory in unloading on a waiter, or store clerk.
I confess to having felt my gorge rise a couple of times in my current marriage, felt the urge to snap off some hostile remark, only to realize - "Who'm I angry at, here? The person in front of me, or the person long behind me?"
Related: friend of mine said on an online forum for other parents who've adopted internationally, there was a split on how to deal with the question "Are they yours?"
One side: Yell. Whoever asked this is rude and ignorant and deserved to be yelled at.
The other side: Be gentle. The one who asked is ignorant, but there's no point being rude:
My third side: people ask me this of my (not-adopted) children. It means "Are you responsible for them?" or "I want to tell you how cute they are" or "They need to move because I'm about to open these doors." It's got nothing to do with what they look like.
And on my forum for Down syndrome parents: how should we deal with someone who says something like the r word ("retard") or "You'll do prenatal testing next time, right, so you can abort?"
(I actually got that second comment. I said, "We're not going there." When he wouldn't stop going there, I hung up the phone. I didn't do it to make him feel bad. I did it so I wouldn't have to listen any more.
It is shocking, sometimes, how grown people who have come across these situations before have never learned how to act in them. ?! An adult who doesn't know better than to use the "r word" hasn't paid attention. Or doesn't care, and I doubt that's true of most people.
Regarding the remark: "You'll do prenatal testing next time, right, so you can abort?"
This is beyond ignorant, beyond crass, and beyond belief. If someone were that (insert proper word here---my vocabulary fails me) to utter a remark like that to me, then I'd have no problem whatsoever saying back in an in-your-face, matter-of-fact manner, "no, my wife and I don't believe that killing babies to solve our problems is a good thing to do." If the insensitive clod didn't take the hint, I'd probably ask, "are you insinuating that we should have had our child killed before he was born...that he'd be better off dead?" (On the other hand, someone THAT ignorant might say "yes"). Will, FWIW, I'm sorry you went through that.