Against the Rise of Rudeness

July 27, 2019 by Charlie Hedges − 4 Comments

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.

The Offense

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.

The Response

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

4 thoughts on “Against the Rise of Rudeness”

  1. You are a tremendous asset to me and to so many others. Thanks you for using this example to create such a good insight. In light of reading this piece I want to underscore the statement I made to you at our office last week after you got off the phone with your banker… it was 100% on point.
    I like to think I’m a good picker of men.

  2. Charles: A very interesting post and thank you for addressing this aspect of life. Rudeness has always existed and always will unfortunately. Given my life experiences, rudeness seems to be an inherent part of life and is more prevalent in some areas and locations than others. What is noticeable is when rudeness or outrageous behavior happens more than once in a place: such as for me in Philadelphia, PA; New Jersey; New York City Airport; LAX (or Los Angeles regrettably); and unfortunately with drivers in Washington DC (my place of birth); not to mention throughout my time in the military. Rudeness is contagious. I believe there can be a distinction though – such as when defending oneself, or responding to impolite or threatening behavior from other people.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The Next Chapter Podcast
Living a life of meaning Living a life with adventure Living a life with awe