Dealing with rude people can take your perfectly happy, sunny mood and turn it into a thundering storm cloud. Am I right??
I remember the spring day I reached out for support years ago. I was exhausted with three kids four and under and had just returned from an outing which had gone horribly. Seeking comfort and a safe place to express myself, I was met with “your kids are terrible and you need to discipline better”.
I cried. No support. No help. I was left feeling worse than if I had not reached out at all.
What to Say when Someone is being Rude
Most of us struggle with controling our “comebacks” and not reacting negatively to rude people. So, to answer the question of what to say when someone is being rude, first check your own attitude.
I know, it’s a hard pill to swallow, but allow someone to rule your own reactions.
I think most of us know that being rude is not how God wishes us to behave. Yes, we are often rude in spite of our best efforts, but what I’d like to talk about is how to deal with rude people the Biblical way and keep these unpleasant situations from ruining our day (and stealing our gratitude).
Causes of Rudeness
Let’s try to gain perspective by examining the causes of rudeness.
First, it’s not always about you. Actually, it rarely is. Most rudeness is a result of what is going on inside of ourselves. Not taking it personal is the first step in dealing with rude people.
- Low self-esteem and insecurities If you are unhappy with yourself and constantly putting yourself in a negative light, that will pour out of your mouth and into your actions.
- Personal problems When we are battling with things in our personal life, we will often be rude to those who have nothing to do with those situations. Stress, grief, sadness, and all strong emotions will come out one way or another. They refuse to be hidden.
- Health issues I have been dealing with chronic migraines. Not only is the pain intense, but they leave me very tired. It is not easy to be smiley and happy when you are in pain or exhausted.
- Cultural differences I am FOREVER telling my 8 year old not to burp at the table. His response is the same every time. “In many countries, a burp is compliments to the chef”. Not this one sassy mouth!
- Anger or fear I can testify to this. I have been overwhelmed with anxiety to the point that I cannot think past it and I know I was rude to others. I couldn’t get outside of my own head and when we are stuck in these modes, we cannot pay as close attention to our actions and words as we should.
- Mental issues I feel as if mental issues get a bad wrap because they can’t be seen. Many people are trapped inside their minds in one way or another and we have no idea. We think they are rude, but we remain unaware of the battles they are fighting. Most likely they are doing the best they can.
- Self-absorbed This is my pet peeve. I can’t stand self-absorbed people, but sadly it is part of our sinful nature.
Dealing with Rude People: How to Respond to Rude Comments and Actions
So how do you respond to rude comments or actions? You have several choices. You can be rude back, ignore it, or repay good for evil.
What does the Bible say about dealing with rude people?
Last week my son read a story in school about a bully. He ended up spraining his ankle and the boy he had bullied helped him. In the process, he discovered the meaning of the Biblical concept of “heaping coals of fire” and was no longer mean.
Check out this gratitude journal to help you focus on an attitude of gratitude and grow your faith 🙂 Click image below to learn more!
Heaping Coals of Fire
“If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat;
And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink;
For so you will heap coals of fire on his head,
And the Lord will reward you.” (Proverbs 25:21-22)
Paul quotes wise Solomon and goes into more detail.
“Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:17-21)
What exactly does it mean?
I believe that “coals of fire” represent a change in evil thoughts or a pricking of one’s conscience because of kindness bestowed in the face of rudeness.
John Calvin explains it this way, “Either our enemy will be softened by kindness, or, if he is so ferocious that nothing may assuage him, he will be stung and tormented by the testimony of his conscience, which will feel itself overwhelmed by our kindness.”
I’m not sure how true that is because some people appear to have no remorse even after I show considerable kindness lol BUT I certainly do not have a first row seat to what is going on in their heart. Both Paul and Solomon are telling us that it is important for us not to respond to evil with evil.
I like the part where Paul says, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men”.
This tells me that it is not always possible to live at peace with people but we should do everything we can not to aggravate the situation. In many cases that means keep your mouth shut! It means to smile and show kindness even when the person in front of you is being completely disrespectful and unpleasant.
Repay Good for Evil
Jesus has strong teaching on this. I’ve always felt these verses a bit hard to swallow, but there is no explaining them away. Jesus is clear about how he expects us to behave toward other people.
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matthew 5:38-45)
Dealing with someone who is rude isn’t quite the same as dealing with an enemy, but I think it is safe to assume that if God wants us to love, pray for, and bless those who hate us, we should do the same for those who are rude to us.
I tend to ignore rude people but even that is not “turning the other cheek”. Jesus wants us to make a deliberate effort to show love when dealing with rude people.
How to Deal with Rude Family Members
Before ending this, I want to address one more area in which dealing with rude people can steal our gratitude. How to deal with rude family members.
We all have them. I feel as if their rudeness hurts the most because well, they are family. Family is supposed to love and support us. Many times that is simply not the case.
Forgiveness comes into play here because often dealing with rude family members brings on a lot of hurts and if unforgiveness festers it will not only ruin relationships but cause turmoil within your own heart.
Sometimes when dealing with hurtful family members, it is necessary to remove yourself from them. In my opinion, this is not the same as ignoring them. For your own mental and spiritual health, separation might be necessary. Women Ministering has an excellent post “When to Limit a Relationship with a Toxic Parent” and is full of wise advice. She describes her relationship with her mother but it can apply to siblings, cousins, or even close friends.
As a mom, I am always looking for ways to encourage my kids to see the blessing they have around them. Click image below to check out this cute gratitude journal for kids!
Embracing a Life of Gratitude when Dealing with Rude People
Do not let dealing with rude people steal your gratitude. It can be tempting, but if we remember that it isn’t about us to start with and make it a goal to love and bless those people who irritate us then our day or week will not be ruined.
What if we choose to pray for and shower love and kindness upon those who are rude to us? Isn’t that what they need the most?
Are you one who chooses to ignore rude people? Have you had any experience with heaping coals of fire when dealing with rude people? I’d love to hear your stories and advice on this topic in the comments below!
Check out the other posts in the Embracing a Life of Gratitude series!