How To Respond To Rude People

Have you ever been treated rudely by a stranger? Or…do you work in a rude or toxic environment? Or…perhaps you have experiences where your family member, significant other or friends behave rudely in front of you…? 

In the modern society, there are many opportunities where people can become rude and uncivil. Thus, everyday grievances and laments about other people’s rudeness aren’t necessarily new. 

This…is exactly what happened to Nancy.

Meet Nancy. Nancy is a bright, cheerful, college student who is also working a part-time job in her school’s convenience store. Her close friends would describe her as a “glass-half-full” kind of girl, hardworking, extremely courteous and polite. 

But…her friends did say, “her extreme politeness could take a toll on her emotional well-being.” Rude people can sometimes take advantage of her “strength” and behave improperly in her presence. 

Let’s all take a look at what had happened while she was working her part-time job in the convenience store of her college. A woman enters the store, she buys a can of energy drink and the tuna sandwiches. When she goes to the counter to pay, she seems to be rummaging inside her sling bag, looking for something.

“Excuse me, did you forget to bring your card? You can scan using the college app, if you have downloaded it inside your phone,” Nancy said politely to the woman in front of her. 

The woman rolls her eyes. “Well, what made you think I brought my phone?” the woman raises her voice. 

Nancy is taken aback by her snarky remark. She then remembers what her mother has always taught her, to be empathetic towards people, even if they might seem rude to you. Maybe this is the time that she can use her power of empathy. She decides not to take the rudeness personally, and just let it go. The woman storms off, and she leaves the drink and sandwiches on the counter, unpaid.

“Maybe she is having a bad day during her class, and is projecting that upset feeling to the world,” Nancy thought to herself. She feels quite calm and assured when she does not let the negative behaviour affect her emotion.  

Yes, dearest Psych2goers, one tip when encountering a rude person, is to break the cycle of rudeness by empathizing and choose to be kind, sees the grumpy attitude as a sign he or she is unhappy. Remember, rudeness begets rudeness, and is contagious. 

Now, let’s all observe what happened, when Nancy and her two group mates have to prepare a presentation. 

Meet Will and Amber, one of the school’s hotshot couples. They are Nancy’s group mates, and unfortunately, both of them contribute very little to the preparation for the presentation. Nancy would always be the one arranging a meeting to discuss what they should do regarding the presentation, and most of the time, the couple would bail out.  They said they are too “busy with their other classes”. So, they always postpone their discussion…

The class presentation would be in another 2 days. Nancy decides she cannot wait anymore. She gives the couple one last text in the group chat, inviting them to have a discussion and complete the slides together with her in the library. They ignore her invitation, so Nancy decides to just proceed looking for information and doing the slides by herself. So, that is how she spent her whole Saturday, finishing up the presentation. Finally after finishing up the slides, she returns to her rental house, lays on her bed and scrolls up her instagram. All of a sudden, she sees an insta live of the couple, who are currently having a “lovey-dovey cafe date”. She then checks the insta feed of Amber. All are filled with pictures where the couple is having a “Satur-date” throughout the whole day. 

Nancy has never felt so upset. She was working very hard on the presentation, but at the same time her two group mates were having the time of their life; having a date. This is an utter rudeness. 

She then remembers reading an article a while ago, on “How to behave when someone is rude towards you.” She remembers that one of the ways is to count to 10 and take a few deep breaths. So, she did just that. 

“1…2…3…4…5…6…7…8…9…10…” Nancy counted while taking a few deep breaths in between. She asks herself, “Is it really worth losing my cool over this?” Nancy decided that it is a waste of her emotional energy to let this get under her skin. She lets it go since she does not want the situation to take up too much room in her life. 

Two days later, it is the day of the presentation. Will is the one presenting. He is known for his ability to articulate quite well, so the presentation turns out to be just fine. The professor compliments the slides presentation, stating that the design and bullet point information is very engaging to the audience. Hearing the compliment, Nancy is elated and feels appreciated…however, her bubble of joy soon bursts when she hears Will says, “Thanks to my dear Amber, who is working very hard for the presentation. Without her, these slides could be very dull.” 

Hmmm, do I spot another rude and disrespectful behaviour? Psych2goers, here’s another tip, when you are dealing with disrespectful people, you need to summon up your common sense. Always trust your gut instincts and intellect, whether you want the situation to roll off your back and not fight back, or put your foot down and make it clear that you won’t tolerate any more rude behaviour. You need to know when to be assertive and speak up; and when to just ignore rude behaviour. 

Nancy feels a rage simmering inside of her. “This is unfair,” she thought to herself. “I spent a whole lot of time finding the information and making the slides, all by myself, and now someone else is gonna take the credit for it? They are being rude and disrespectful towards myself and the time that I had spent making the presentation…” 

So…that’s what made Nancy finally stand up in the lecture hall. 

“Dr. James,” she addresses her professor. “I am their groupmate. I am the one who spends my whole Saturday making the presentation.” By the time Nancy finished this sentence, Will and Amber had an expression of shock on their faces. Their lips turn to a huge ‘O’, well, oh well…it is about time that a bug flies into their mouths, respectively. 

Nancy continues, “I designed everything, and even edited the video that had been played at the beginning of the presentation. The only thing that the couple is ever involved is…to attend the class and Will is the presenter…Even so, I am the one who makes the notes for Will on what to say and highlight during the presentation.” 

She wanted to spill the bean that they had been lying to her and ignoring her when she asked for a discussion regarding the presentation, and how they spent fun time dating, while she had to work very hard to make the slides…but she thought what she had said was already enough to let people know that it was her doing the gritty work behind-the-scene, and she won’t let people like Amber or Will took away the appreciation from her. 

“Okay, Nancy, thank you for letting me know…” Dr. James then continues, “Will and Amber, I need to see you after this class. Nancy, I will meet you separately and will let you know.” 

Dr. James asks to meet Nancy, two days later. He asks her some questions, and clarifies things from her. Dr. James says that this will not affect their carry marks in any way since the presentation is judged collectively, as a group.

“I appreciate you for standing up for yourself,” Dr. James said. “I hope this experience will teach you something more about yourself and how to deal with others. And you did a really good job for the presentation. Thank you, Nancy.”

Nancy feels appreciated. She feels ever so grateful to have a supporting lecturer like Dr. James. She walks back home with a light heart, (well, she almost wants to skip back home merrily), while listening and humming to her favourite song from her phone. 

So, do you suffer from a person behaving rudely towards you? How will you respond to them? Now that you have some tips and advice from Nancy, let us know in the comment below. 


Bergland, C. (2015, December 7). 5 polite ways to disarm rude people. Retrieved May 20, 2021, from

Morin, A. (2017, September 15). How mentally strong people deal with rudeness and snark. Retrieved May 20, 2021, from

Whitbourne, S. K. (2017, November 21). The best way to counteract rude behavior. Retrieved May 20, 2021, from

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