“Rudeness is the weak man’s imitation of strength.” Edmund Burke
Man, I hate rude people… I think it reminds me of myself on a bad day.
Last week I received a couple emails that that angered me to the core. You know how emails can do that. Then when one of the culprits telephoned me, totally innocently, I did not say, “Hello” or “Hey, what’s up?” Instead I jumped right into lambasting him for the emails I received. He jokingly replied, “Well, good morning Charlie. And how are you on this lovely day.” But even that reminder didn’t stop me, I just continued ranting.
Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever responded rudely to someone you thought offended you or, even worse, began supporting a belief or situation with which you totally disagreed? Yuk! It is so easy to be rude. Sometimes it is even gratifying… “Well I told him!” But… for the most part, that rudeness only feels good for a moment until you think about it and realize what a jerk you were.
What do you do then?
You know it’s actually quite simple: apologize for your rudeness and ask for forgiveness. That’s it. It requires no explanation or rationalization. Doing that almost dismisses your apology. Just say your behavior was inappropriate and you are sorry you said what you did.
It is shocking, for the most part, how forgiving people are when they are faced with genuine contrition. And for the ones that refuse to accept your apology… well usually that’s their problem. At least your side of the street is clean.
Contrition and Kindness
I have found extraordinary power in contrition and kindness. For instance, in the scenario I described above, within an hour I was on the phone apologizing and my friend quickly said, “No big deal, let’s just move on.” And to make matters even worse for me (and more embarrassing) I discovered the original emails that upset me so were merely a matter of miscommunication and misunderstanding.
I have to admit that I am troubled these days by the rise of rude talk. Politicians seem to be the guiltiest. I feel as if rudeness has suddenly become an acceptable form of communication in the political arena. But the real problem is that we are living at a time when trickle down rude communication (from politicians) is more prevalent. I am honestly shocked by this exacerbation of rude talk in general.
I vote for kind and civilized speech. Whatever became of the leading virtue of kindness, in which we value the feelings of the people to whom we are addressing? Obviously this does not mean we abstain from delivering rebuke or admonition for bad behavior. This is not about the “what” of the communication but about the “how.”
A Bit of Wisdom
I once read a bit of advice on methods of communication. Basically the message was “write” the good things, and “say” the bad ones. This just occurred to me yesterday. I was upset by the way a friend communicated to another friend by email. After a bit of thought I decided to respond to the email with another email. I read it to my wife who reminded me of the edict to “say” bad things. “Call the guy and talk to him” was her advice.
Brilliant. I called and after twenty minutes of discussion not only was the situation resolved but we actually bonded our relationship even stronger, because I approached him with kindness and not rudeness. Had I sent an email I probably would have ended up with a scar on our friendship. No good!
In conclusion I would like to quote my friend, Michelle Jordan: “When I am faced with conflict I try to respond with questions, not argument.” Wisdom at it’s best.
Kindness Always Trumps Rudeness
Photo courtesy of fizkes at istockphoto