More and more people today are curt, cold, unfriendly, mean, and
But I believe most of them are not bad people, and they aren’t in
many instances deliberately being mean or discourteous to you.
They are short with you and impolite because they are just so
I call this phenomenon haste-based rudeness.
People used to be kinder and more civil.
But especially in business, they are just so swamped, they are
And as a result, feel compelled to get through every conversation
as rapidly as possible.
This leads to the impression that they are uncouth louts for two
First, everything is fast. They want to get the conversation done
as quickly as possible. Which may make the other person feel they
are getting the brush-off. Also, the tone of a rapid-fire
conversation is often not genteel.
Second, they are in such a rush, when you try to get a word in,
they feel you are interrupting them. When you try to express your
opinion, they view it as arguing — and they get irritated.
If you are a client, customer, or the boss, you do have power
over certain people, and may feel it’s OK to treat them
dismissively or brusquely.
It’s even worse if a boss is talking to an underling, or a vendor
to a client, because they are the ones in a position of power.
But as Ben Parker tells his nephew Peter Parker in Spider-Man:
“Just because you can do something to someone doesn’t mean you
should do it.”
So what can you do? And how can you act better?
A few suggestions….
< < First, if you find yourself being short or impatient with others, slow down. If you are stressed, close your door or put on ear buds, and listen to something relaxing and soothing for a bit. Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata works for me. Then do a little deep breathing. Only then do you open the door, invite the person in, and start the meeting or conversation. You will be less rude because you are calmer. >> Second, if you find others being rude with you, and they are
the boss, client, team leader, or even fellow team member, don’t
lose your cool.
If you respond with a smile and a non-angry rebuttal, spoken in a
soft, measured voice, it can usually get them to back off and
match your more reasoned demeanor.
On occasion someone will say something that is incredibly rude,
offensive, insulting, or inappropriate.
Pause a second, look the person in the eye (if you are
face-to-face or on video chat), and firmly but calmly say, “What
was your purpose in saying that to me?”
Eight out of ten will instantly realize they were inappropriate.
They will then apologize and continue in a more civil tone. Try
For the 2 out of 10 who don’t, at least you have made them aware
that their words and demeanor crossed a line — and most people do
not want to do that.