Tuesday, March 17, 2009

How Do You Respond To People Who Are Rude?

During my morning drive I usually listen to Greek vocabulary (insert nerd comments here) or I keep the radio off all together. However, when I started the car talk radio was blaring as yesterday I must have been belting out lyrics to the latest Top 40 hits. The topic caught my attention right away so I decided to listen on. The folk on the radio (I don't even know the station to be honest) were talking about how they respond when people are rude to them. I found it intriguing on several levels:

  • They spoke of doing kind acts where people don't respond in kindness. For example, a guy who desires to be "chivalrous" actually holding the door open for a lady, yet when she passes through she doesn't say anything. Was her lack of a "thank you" rude? How would you respond gents? Should we expect kindness in return for kind actions done to us?

  • At the check-out counter. They were gave the example of actually trying to interact with the person who is checking out our groceries or clothes or whatever, but the person has no desire to talk. I encounter this quite frequently in the city. Should I expect a person who sees countless people come through the line, many of whom themselves are rude, to be kind to me if I am kind? How should I respond if they don't say a word, don't even look at me, tell me my total, give me my change, and move on to the next customer?

  • A guy shared a story of a woman in a Corvette flicking him off in traffic. This man at 6'4", 220 lbs said that he got out of his car, walked over to hers, and proceeded to spit on her driver's side window as a way of telling her that she shouldn't be rude like that...awesome. Is that the right thing to do, to respond to rudeness with an equally rude or even greater rude action?

There were several other examples given, but I found it interesting that many of them on the radio, and I would include myself in this, have this high expectation that if I am kind to you that you actually owe me kindness in return, that in fact it is your responsibility as a human being to be kind back to me. If you aren't kind to me then you have violated my right to receive kindness from you and therefore I can in turn be rude to you and show you that you should have been kind. Is that how I think? Is that how you think?

Well, they shared one response that I found cutting in various ways. When asking for response from listeners, they mentioned that someone texted in a response to rude people. What was it? "Jesus loves you" of course. The DJs then said, "Dang!!! That's a good one. That one hurts."

By His Grace.


  1. I think we all need to be a good bit less sensitive. We don't know what is happening in other people's lives when we hold a door open for them or try to speak to them in line at the checkout counter.

    The person walking through the door may be having such a tough time that the simple kindness shown by opening the door has them close to tears, so saying thank you would thrown them off the edge into a full-blown crying jag.

    Perhaps the person in line at the checkout counter has met some nefarious sorts out in the world and is afraid to talk to strangers.

    There's not much excuse for the person who flips you off in traffic, but perhaps the best thing to do in that case would be to not respond publicly but to privately pray for that person.

    I'm always tempted to respond when I think someone has been rude to me too. But I don't think that shows a Christlike attitude.

  2. Thanks for the comments, Richard. I am sadly amused by the way we do express kindness to others, surely sensitive to how people respond. It may seem like a form of rejection and none of us like that. In any case, it's easy to love friends, those who are warm to us; loving enemies is the battle--a battle which we are called to fight in the Spirit of Christ.