What To Say and do When Someone Is Being Rude

Some people are so bitter they walk around like garbage cans, once they open their mouth to speak, every word that comes out needs filtering.

It’s sad that they also tend to be louder. When someone is full of negativity, they can’t help but leave droppings of negative energy wherever they go.

When someone is rude to you, purpose not to revenge and don’t be quick to answer. Just respond with a shrug and no words. This sends a stronger message than words can. If you have to speak, say something positive. For instance, you can use responses such as I understand, you may be right, let’s end this conversation, I’m sorry, and so on. Be the ‘bigger’ person and show kindness. Avoid raising your voice or engaging in an argument.

There’s a Facebook group I religiously follow; it’s a parenting group I joined when I was a new mother, I was so clueless on parenting matters so I needed a lot of clarifications, confirmations, and advice.

All along, I have enjoyed sober conversations and genuine support. Unfortunately, in recent months, there’s a new breed of mothers from hell that do not censor their comments and posts.

They leave distasteful words on the wall, and as I said, they are the loudest.

The group moderator is a very mature mom who always finds the right words to cool the fire when hell breaks loose. I’m learning a lot from her, I’ll share a few tips.

Rudeness is not only verbal, but it can also be an act, for example, someone intentionally leaving you out on an invitation, using your items without requesting first or not returning, rushing past someone to beat them at getting a prime parking spot, honking repeatedly at a slow driver, withholding crucial information only to release it last minute, spreading malicious emails or rumors, taking credit for others sweat, and so on.

The examples are endless.

The most unfortunate thing is that research shows that rudeness is infectious. Don’t get caught up in the cycle.

7 Things to Say When Someone Is Being Rude

1.     Say nothing

Just smile and pay no attention to their words and deeds; it leaves the villain disgusted, feeling like you have aborted their mission. They are left guessing what your next move is.

This takes a high level of maturity. Other non-verbal gestures include lifting one eyebrow or shrugging your shoulders.

2.     I understand

This is may not be the case. Maybe you have no idea what is going through the mind of the rude person but responding using “I understand” may just be the antidote for their negative energy.

These words display a higher level of maturity and can be used on people at all levels, a boss, a junior, a cab driver, a parent, or anyone else.

A good response can be “I understand you are pressed for time…”, “I understand you may be having a bad day…”, or “I understand this is not the right time…”

As earlier mentioned, your tone needs to be moderate or else the message you are relaying will not be understood.

3.     I’m sorry

‘I’m sorry’ sets in a remorseful mood; it is best suited for a rude face to face conversation.

You may not be seeing the reason for the other person getting upset but when you apologize, you disarm them.

You deflate the built up emotions. Most people feel like apologizing makes them look defenseless and weak but it doesn’t.

4.     We’ll talk later

Opposing opinions may not be given any attention at a heated moment regardless of how helpful they are.

It’s better to hold your thoughts and share them later when everyone is calm. You may have a burning urge to share your opinion and put across an idea but if you do it just after someone has been rude to you, chances are that you will not be in charge of your emotions.

Allow yourself room to cool off and not respond in anger. You can also say, “We will pick this discussion form here” or “… we will continue with this conversation later.”

5.     Excuse me

This is an intercepting response, mostly, the conversation is instantly halted. You are calling for attention.

For instance, if someone cuts the line and stands before you, you can make them turn and listen by saying, ‘’excuse me, I was ahead of you in the queue’’.

There’s a more assertive way of using ‘excuse me’. You can use it as a question as if to demand the other party to repeat what they just did.

No one wants to repeat a rude statement or act, especially when the attention is on them. In most instances, they will cower and walk away.

6.     It’s okay, thank you

What? Yes. Say thank you. This immediately clears the negative energy. You are leaving the other person confused not knowing your thoughts.

You also leave an open chance for the conversation to continue. Assume you were borrowing an item and the owner bluntly refuses to share, just say, okay, thanks. 

7.     You are right

In an instance where there is some truth in what is being said, you may need to bow and simply accept.

This is extremely hard at the moment, but it’s the best-suited response. Other ways of giving this response are, ‘you have a point’ or ‘that’s debatable’.

In conclusion, most of these responses are positive; does it mean you always have to be the one submitting? Not really. You can also be assertive, only make sure you keep it moderate. Besides, you don’t know what context the other person is acting or speaking from.

When you payback rudeness, you submit to stress, you give it the power to lower your self-esteem and destroy your relationships. The opposite is also true when you respond to rudeness kindly, you take charge over your emotions and you minimize chances of getting stressed. Sometimes people are fighting inner battles, they are losing control and all they need is someone to understand them. Be that person.

When Someone Ignores You What Does That Mean

Check out more on How to Respond to an Insincere Apology


Am a graduate sociologist and a regular contributor to national publications such as the American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Journal of Applied Social Science and the Annual Review of Sociology.

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