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How to Deal With Rude People

Two Methods:Confronting the PersonIgnoring the Person

You will inevitably have to deal with mean or rude people throughout your life. Whether it’s a complete stranger at the grocery store, your roommate, or a coworker, there will always be someone who gets on your nerves. There are different strategies to address rude people based on the situation. If the person is someone who has insulted you personally or their rudeness is something you have to deal with on a daily basis, it may be best to confront them directly to keep it from happening again. If the person is a complete stranger and their rudeness is senseless and not worth your time, it is probably wise to walk away from the situation altogether.

Method 1
Confronting the Person

  1. 1
    Stay calm. Confronting the person won’t work if you’re angry and aggressive.
    • If you feel upset or frazzled by a rude comment the person said to you, take a few deep breaths before approaching them. The more flustered you look, the less they will listen to what you have to say.
    • Spend a moment thinking carefully about what you will say beforehand instead of impulsively yelling at the person. They will be less likely to argue back if you show that their rude comment has not fazed you. Being the bigger person means that you are confident and in control of your emotions.
    • Don't engage them in any sort of physical fight or argument - this will also only worsen the situation. If you’re worried you might lash out, have a friend with you to keep you in check.
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    Be direct. Avoid beating around the bush or being passive-aggressive. Face them square on, make eye contact, and cut straight to chase about what it is they did that upset you. They can’t learn from their mistake if they don’t know what they did.
    • If someone cuts in front of you in line at the grocery store, don’t let out a dramatic sigh and roll your eyes hoping that they will notice. Address them directly by saying, “Excuse me, but I think I was in front of you in line” or “I’m sorry, but the line starts back there.”
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    Use humor. If you feel uncomfortable directly calling someone out on their rudeness in a serious way, incorporate humor to diffuse the tension.
    • If someone is loudly munching on their sandwich and making a mess next to you on the subway, smile and casually say something like, “Wow, you’re really enjoying that, aren’t you?” with a laugh. If they don’t get the point, follow up with, “Would you mind chewing a little less loudly?”
    • Make sure your humor is light-hearted and not passive-aggressive or sarcastic. Stay friendly and smile. You want your comment to come off as a joke that the both of you can laugh about, not a sassy comment that fires off an argument.
  4. 4
    Be polite. The best way to fight rudeness is with kindness. Be the bigger person and don’t stoop down to their level by being rude in return.[1]
    • Keep your tone of voice respectful and not sassy. Smile.
    • Use please and thank you. These words can go a long way. For example, try saying, "Please stop, I find that rude and insulting. I don't appreciate your behavior," or "There's no need for such [aggressive, rude, insulting, etc.] comments here. Thank you.”
    • Oftentimes, people who are rude have something bothering them. Their rudeness might be a cry for help, or they might be searching for an empathetic ear. If you know the person well enough, ask them if something is bothering them or if they need help. Make sure it does not come off as being sarcastic, however. Try saying something like “I’ve noticed you’ve been acting more [uptight, tense, etc.] lately. Is everything okay? Is there anything I can do to help?”[2]
  5. 5
    Have a civilized conversation. If the person insulted you personally or said something that you strongly disagree with, politely state your opinion or ask them why they are behaving this way.
    • Try to understand their perspective by saying, “I find what you just said to be rude and disrespectful… what makes you say that?” This could launch a healthy discussion or debate - but make sure it doesn’t spiral out of hand.
    • If it “does” turn into a heated argument and person continues to be rude and disrespectful, walk away. Realize you’ve done all you can and let it go.
    • Remember that some people are dead-set on their opinions. It isn’t possible for everyone to agree on everything, and sometimes even if you try, you won’t be able to change their mind.
  6. 6
    Use “I” statements as opposed to “you” statements. “You” statements point the blame and accusations to the listener, which might make them defensive. Instead, express to them how their actions make you feel personally.[3]
    • If a relative keeps making comments about your weight, try saying something like, “When you say those things about my body, I feel insecure and down about myself,” as opposed to “You are so annoying and rude.”
  7. 7
    Talk to them in private. No one likes to be singled out in front of others when they are at fault. If a person is being rude to you when you’re in a group, try to wait until you can talk to them one-on-one.[4]
    • If a friend is making racist or sexist comments during a group conversation at lunchtime, wait until the others have left or offer to walk with them to class so you can discuss it privately. Or, text them later and say, “Hey, I wanted to talk to you about something. Do you have a minute after school?”
    • Talking in private also prevents other friends from taking sides in the conflict, which only worsens the situation and could potentially create a divide in your friend group.[5]
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    Don't overthink the situation. If you've confronted someone about their behavior and things haven't improved, accept that you've done as much as you possibly could to improve relations with them.
    • You can’t make someone be polite if they want to be rude, and it is not your responsibility to try to “fix” them. In fact, trying too hard to force a change in their behavior will often make them behave worse instead of better. Sometimes you just have to accept people’s rudeness, realize it is not your fault, and let them find their own solutions.[6]

Method 2
Ignoring the Person

  1. 1
    Maintain a “poker” face. Do not show any emotion. Even if you feel yourself getting angry, annoyed, or irritated, don’t give them what they want by showing that their rudeness is getting to you.
    • Stay calm and collected. Close your eyes and take a deep breath if you feel yourself losing your temper.
    • Keep a straight face or try going for a “blank” look on your face, disengaging completely from the person and showing them they are not worth your time.
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    Cut off direct eye contact. When you make eye contact, you are acknowledging the person and validating their actions. Look away from them and gaze straight ahead at something in the distance.
    • Avoiding looking down at the ground. This type of body language comes off as submissive and unconfident. Keeping your gaze up and steady makes you look self-assured and in control.[7]
  3. 3
    Turn your body away from them. You can convey a lot through your body language alone. Turn your shoulders and feet to point in the opposite direction. Cross your arms in front of your body to look closed off and disengaged.
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    Walk away. If possible, walk quickly in the opposite direction from them and don’t look back. Stand up tall and look confident as you are walking.[8]
    • If you feel awkward not saying anything before walking away, keep your response short. This will acknowledge that you’ve heard what they’ve said but don’t agree with it. You can just say something like, “OK” or “I don’t know” before turning away.
    • If a classmate keeps rubbing in your face that he got a perfect score on his last exam, just smile and say, "That's nice.” Then turn your attention to other, more important things.
    • If it’s someone that you know you will have to interact with again, like a coworker or friend, walking away from a few minutes can give them some space to calm down. Hopefully when you meet again, they will have changed their behavior.
  5. 5
    Avoid the person. Keep your distance from the rude person so that their negativity does not bog you down on a regular basis.[9]
    • If the person is a stranger, this should be easy - you will likely never have to see them again.
    • If you really can’t stand the person but tend to run into them on a daily basis, try to limit contact with them as much as possible. If it's possible for you to switch offices or make some other change to avoid running into this person, take that step. It will definitely help to not have them in your presence.[10]


  • Accept that rudeness is a human quality, and it is impossible to get along with everyone. Remember that we all have moments of irrationality - in fact, in some situations, we might be the rude person!
  • Don’t take it personally. Rudeness is usually a result of a personal issue or insecurity that has nothing to do with you. Even if the person is taking their frustration out “on” you, it doesn’t mean they’re frustrated “with” you. Don’t internalize their meanness as a fault of your own; instead, try to deal with it objectively.
  • Even if it does have something to do with you and you feel personally attacked, take a step back and realize you have a choice in the way you let it affect you. Take the power out of their rudeness by choosing to treat it as their problem, not yours. Be confident in yourself and what you believe in and don’t let their harsh words get to you.
  • Keep on the down-low when making replies; you want to make polite ones, not ones that will get you in trouble. This will show them that you are much more mature, and therefore will help you maintain your dignity.[11]
  • Be the opposite of rude to them: smile, show compassion, and ask them how they are. Their rudeness might be a cry for help and showing kindness might be exactly what they need in the moment. Try to spread positive vibes instead of wasting energy on negative ones.[12]
  • Limit the people with whom you share these confrontations with to your closest friends. It’s okay to want to vent about an emotionally strenuous situation, but then move on to something else. Part of being the bigger person in these situations is not making a big deal out of it. Plus, you don’t want gossip to spread and make it back to the rude person.
  • Observe how others handle them. It is likely that you are not the only one who finds someone rude. Try to see how other people interact with them when they are being rude, and whether or not their techniques work. This might give you other ideas and insights on how to manage them.[13]


  • Don't be mean back to the rude person. It is only showing them that what they are doing is bothering you. Besides, if you are mean, is there much difference between you and them?
  • Don't change for them - it will only make them feel like they have superiority over you. People who are rude often play subtle power games; trying to get you to slip up or change to suit them.
  • Don't do anything that may escalate the conflict, such as start a fight. It's better to walk away than to try to persuade them otherwise or belittle them in retaliation.[14]

Article Info

Categories: Social Nuisances