Rudeness is the weak person’s imitation of strength.” -Unknown
I’m just going to come out and say it:
Rudeness is not okay.
I find it interesting that when most people read the previous sentence, they either have one of two reactions:
1) They agree with the fact that rudeness is not okay.
2) They try to come up with excuses for when rudeness would be okay.
One option makes complete logical sense, while the other option is unspeakably lame and does nothing to make this world a more positive place (I’m sure you know which one is which.)
I actually just looked this up, but according to Merriam-Webster, being rude is officially defined as “not having or showing concern or respect for the rights and feelings of other people.”
Let’s be honest, is there ever a time where not having respect for the rights and feelings other people is okay? Are there really people out there who try to justify treating another human being with disrespect?
To answer those questions respectively: “No” and “Yes.”
That’s why I’m writing this blog post.
Many of you know that I’m locked in on my goal of creating a nicer world, and I know that it will never happen as long as people think that it’s okay to treat other people like crap.
Do I seriously think that I can drastically reduce the amount of rudeness in this world?
Actually, I do.
Will it be easy? Probably not. But one thing that you probably know about me by now is that I’m not the kind of guy who will back down just because the goal is difficult.
No one said that this “eliminating rudeness” stuff would be easy, right?
Let’s get to it.
Seriously, There’s No Excuse For Rudeness
I know that rudeness is fairly subjective, and I’m definitely not going to lay out the millions of different ways that people can be rude in this blog post. To keep it simple, it’s similar to what the late Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said when he tried to define pornography:
“I know it when I see it.”
Sure, we may all have different ideas of what it means to be rude, but in general, most of us know exactly what rudeness is when we see it. And if we’re being honest, we probably see it, and contribute to it, more often than we should.
Even worse is the fact that many people make excuses for their rudeness, and to me, that is the real problem that needs to come to an immediate end.
Here are some very common excuses for rudeness that I’m sure you’ve heard before:
“Hey, what do you expect? I haven’t had my coffee yet.”
“I’m having a bad day.”
“This guy was being a jerk to me, so I had to curse him out. No one is going to disrespect me.”
“My team got destroyed last night and I’m still pissed about it.”
“I’m not a morning person, ok?”
“I can’t help it. Being hot-tempered is something that runs in my family.”
“I’m on a tight deadline to get this project done.”
“I know that (insert person here) was rude. He just doesn’t know any better.”
If you’re reading this and you’re sincerely interested in making this world a more positive place, we’re going to have to raise the bar from the pathetic excuses for rudeness that I just listed above in quotations.
Excluding 1) a legitimate mental illness, 2) recently receiving life-altering news (e.g., being diagnosed with a serious illness, death of a loved one, being laid off from your job, a medical emergency, etc.), or 3) your physical safety is being intentionally threatened, there is no reasonable excuse for a grown-ass man or woman to be rude to another person.
The department store cashier refusing to honor your expired coupon or the fact that you’re not a morning person, doesn’t come within a million miles of qualifying as legitimate reasons.
Please keep it real with me. If there’s a legitimate reason to be rude to someone else that I’m missing, or if anyone deeply wants to defend their right to “not have concern or respect for the rights and feelings of other people,” I’m open to hearing it.
But if that’s where you want to focus your energy, then I hate to say this, but you’re probably a part of the problem.
As far as I’m concerned, barring the extreme examples mentioned above, rudeness is never okay.
This Isn’t About Being Perfect
There’s one excuse for rudeness that I haven’t mentioned yet, and it is by far the most common:
“Look, no one is perfect. We all have our bad moments. It’s a part of life.”
I couldn’t agree more with that.
One of the biggest misconceptions about writing a blog about positivity is that people seem to think that I’m immune from having bad days and that I’m incapable of being rude. Trust me, neither is close to being true.
Believe me, I have bad days. I have days where I don’t have the energy to be positive as I would like. I have days where I’m rude to other people. That’s real.
I’m very aware that no one is perfect, and that’s why I’m not asking for perfection. Here’s what I am asking for:
If we are rude to someone else, we must have the maturity and sensibility as grown adults to quickly check ourselves and sincerely apologize for our rudeness instead of making lame excuses for it.
There’s no excuse not to do this.
This is a topic that’s worth another blog post of its own, but for the life of me, I cannot understand people who lack the ability or willingness to apologize after they’ve made a mistake. Unfortunately, in some cases I know that this is usually due to a lack of awareness, but as far as I’m concerned, that’s just another lame excuse to avoid the adult responsibility of fully owning the effect of our words and our actions on others.
I’ve said it before, but it’s worth saying again: Consistently taking your anger out on people (especially those who don’t deserve it) when you’re having a bad day is the lowest form of emotional maturity. As bad as that is, it’s 1,000,000 times worse if you don’t immediately apologize for doing so and take steps to prevent against it happening again.
We’re all going to have bad days, we’re all going to have days when we snap at people, we’re all going to be rude to others. This is a very real part of the human experience because none of us are perfect.
Since that’s undeniably true, here’s the question that must be answered after it happens:
Will we take action to own our rude behavior by sincerely apologizing for it, or will we just make excuses for it?
If you’ve ever been on the wrong side of rudeness, you know that it has the power to ruin your day, put you in a terrible mood, and in extreme instances, destroy your faith in mankind.
That’s why I’m looking to each of us to raise our game a little bit. We can’t continue to let our moods determine our manners.
You will have a morning where you don’t get your morning coffee. There will be a time where the waiter gets your dinner order wrong for whatever reason. It’s possible that you might come from a family of yellers and screamers.
I don’t care.
Rudeness hurts. And as much as you might believe that you’re justified in the moments where you don’t have to “have respect for the rights and feelings of other people,” chances are that you’re not.
I’m not saying that you need to give a loving hug to a rude and disinterested customer service rep, a person just who cut you off in traffic, or a bully coworker who is making your life a living hell (although, you could argue that they all probably need one.)
What I am saying is that if we stay at the emotional kiddie table of life by “fighting fire with fire” at the first sign of rudeness, the world will never positively change.
It’s time to move past the misguided idea that the only way to deal with rudeness is with more rudeness.
It is always an option to deal with any form of rudeness firmly, respectfully, and with civility without being as rude and insensitive as they are being to us.
Equally as important, it is also always an option to apologize quickly and sincerely when we’re rude to other people.
It may not be easy, but you have to admit, it is a pretty simple concept.
This isn’t about everyone else changing. The world will only change once we change. And one of the biggest ways to make it happen quickly is to stop making excuses for the inexcusable.
Rudeness is not okay.
As I said earlier, there are only two reactions to the previous sentence:
“So true, there is no excuse for rudeness,” or “Well, I still think it’s perfectly fine to be rude when…”
Just know this–only one of those responses has the power to positively change the world.
Do you believe that there’s no excuse for rudeness? Do you think that too many people make excuses for their rudeness? Do you believe that rudeness is okay? Either way, jump into the comments below and make your voice heard!