November 23, 2010

Dealing With Rude People: Holiday Edition


Some days don’t you just want to do this? I know I have. And there have been a few times where, despite my better judgement, I’ll decide to let someone know that they’re being rude. And it rarely goes well.

One of my most significant memories of dealing with a rude person isn’t really about me dealing with them. I was out at a restaurant with CycleGuy and my friend ZoniDuck and some drunk fool kept backing into us. Being the guy, CycleGuy puts himself between RudeDude and Zoni. But RudeDude doesn’t get it. Then RudeDude turns around and says something to me and Zoni, trying to get us to pass judgement on something that would somehow lead to him drinking even more than he’d already had.  And before Zoni could answer, CycleGuy took over and let RudeDude know that we’re not answering his questions.  It was classic drunk frat-boy kinda behavior that followed. Fortunately, our name was called and RudeDude was left behind.

In my mind I can come up with a bunch of comebacks for rude people. Only, I rarely allow them past my lips. Part of me is scared. Scared they’ll beat the pulp out of me. And part of me just doesn’t want to engage with someone who’s acting a fool. Many times, it’s just much better to watch and allow them to self-destruct.

Now that we’re in full holiday mode, I thought I’d share with you a few survival tips for dealing with the inevitability of encountering rude people.

Dealing With Rude People: Holiday Edition

1. Rude Law Enforcement or Rent-A-Cop: You won’t win. Face it. They have the power to arrest you or, at minimum, detain you. None of these options is good for you. Best way to hand rude law enforcement or rent-a-cop people is to breathe deeply, answer their questions pleasantly (while keeping all seethe on the inside) and get their name. If you can ask for a supervisor, do so. But under no circumstance should you escalate the encounter. It rarely ends well for us regular folks. Take names and deal with it later.

2. TSA: See #1 Above. It’s not cool to be searched or be subjected to the enhanced pat down, but remain calm, keep your cool and use your inside voice. If you feel you are being mistreated, ask for a supervisor and take down names so you can file a complaint afterward.

3. Waitstaff at a Restaurant: We’ve all have rude waiters and waitresses. There’s a bell curve for every profession. Some are good and some aren’t. There have been horror stories of servers spitting on people’s food or dropping food on the floor and putting it back on the plate. Don’t react immediately. Take a breathe and try to determine what’s going on. Is the server upset at something you said or did? Was there a misunderstanding? Is the server overwhelmed and taking it out on you. Knowing what’s going on and remaining calm and polite may help to diffuse the situation. We all have bad days, so during these busy times try to have a bit more empathy. However, if you are being mistreated or not getting the service you feel you deserve, ask to speak to the manager. If that does not help, you can always leave and take up the matter with corporate. We’ve all had bad servers. Ask CycleGuy, I don’t hesitate to get control of this situation very quickly!

4. Retail Salesperson: Get ready for frazzled employees. We all deal with jerks every now and then. Some handle it better than others. If the salesperson isn’t being pleasant or helpful, you can always leave. Channel your inner Pretty Woman and just walk away. There are other salespeople willing to help, or ask to speak to a manager if you need to share your shopping experience. Busy days are not an excuse to be rude to customers, nor it is a reason to be rude to salespeople. Confronting a rude salesperson often won’t get you anywhere, so leave or ask to speak to a supervisor if you feel you need to address the matter immediately. If you’d rather not engage with the salesperson, most retail stores have a customer service area where you can go and ask to speak to a manager. Don’t engage the rude salesperson/manager, you’ll just get more frustrated. The pen is mightier than the sword! And having worked retail during the holiday, I can tell you first hand that it’s not as glamourous as one might envision. The hours are long, the people can be rude and co-workers may be annoying. But these are no excuses to act like a bee-otch. And you don’t have to take their attitude.

5. Airline Personnel: Let’s face it. It’s the busy season for travel, the weather isn’t always the best, things break down. And rude people abound. Imagine having to deal with jerks all day long? It’s no excuse to treat other people poorly, but we all know it trickles down. Quickly. Keep your cool. Be prepared. And realize that if an airline employee is being rude or snarky, that you can diffuse the situation by just recognizing that they must have just unloaded a plane full of asshats. Humor is a great way to get the person to see the good that does exist. I’ll be flying during the holidays and will do my best to ensure that I arrive with the right attitude and a big dose of flexibility. And some depends (just incase we’re stuck on the plane!).

6. Other Shoppers: Just assume everyone else is on crystal meth and coming down hard. That being said, just avoid other shoppers. There will be elbows thrown for that last toy on the shelf at 70% off. Someone else has waited in line and feels entitled to push and shove. Don’t forget, people have been killed for Black Friday Deals. It’s not worth it. I know you just want to ‘keep it real’. And why should you defer to the jerk? How come you can’t push your way to the front for the last Cabbage Patch Kid? (Oops, sorry, wrong decade!) Yes, you can push and shove, and get snappy and snarky and say things you may later regret. The problem is that there are people who are just looking to pick a fight. Remember, is that thing worth a trip to the ER or a concussion or being angry for the next several days? No, it’s not. It’s just stuff. You’ll find it again. But if you don’t it’s not the end of the world. There will be more. People can be rude and we can’t do much about it. We’ve all encountered them when it’s not the holidays and we want to punch them in the face. Don’t hesitate to alert the store personnel if it gets out of hand or if you feel threatened.

7. Kids: Yours and other peoples. They’re tired too. They’re bored, they don’t want to do their chores. They’re watching too much TV or playing online or using the gaming system. Whatever it is, kill ’em with kindness. The holidays can be stressful for our kids and their friends and the kids of people we encounter. Remember how much you hated the crowds and the unfamiliar food and the huggy, touchy, feely see once-in-a-blue-moon family members. The kids hate it now too. Try to relate to their feelings and either explain things to them so they’re prepared or find alternative activities for them to keep them in a more pleasant mood.  Oh, and make sure they eat healthy and nutritious food. If you have ‘one of those moments’, acknowledge it, apologize and move forward. We’re not perfect!

8. Charity Seekers: There will be bell-ringers and money collectors for all kinds of charities. You don’t have to give to all of them, or any of them for that matter. That does not mean they should be rude to you or you to them. Many of them are just trying to do their job and they’re hungry or tired or cold or annoyed. How would you feel spending 8-hours asking people for money? If you want to give, give. If you don’t, say no thank you and walk away. If they’re rude or abusive, call the police or seek a manager at the establishment where you are. This is one of my peeves. Some of them are just very aggressive. While getting in their face may seem like a good idea, it’s not. They’re not worth your time or your elevated blood pressure.

9. Friends: Yes, our friends will be rude to us, and we to them. It happens. The stress of the holidays, other people being rude to us that gets our mood down, hunger, cold, lack of time, all of these affect our mood. Try not to let it. Focus on why you’re with your friend and how much you care about them. If they’re having a bad day and you think they’re taking it out on you, call them on it. You’re friends, right? Sometimes we don’t recognize our own behavior as being unacceptable.

10. Ourselves: Sometimes we can be jerks and kick up that rude level just as well as the next guy. Know your triggers. Stay comfortable, hydrated, fed, on time, and focused. Be flexible but don’t let people take advantage of you. And, as Kenny Rogers said in The Gambler, “Know when to walk away”. We know that rude people suck. And we all know that we often feel guilty when we’re overtly rude to someone. (OK, some people get off on it — both online and in real life). Don’t be ‘that person’. If you need some personal time, take it so you can regroup. We can ruin our own holiday experiences just as well as other people can ruin ours too. At least we can, in most cases, control ourselves.

So there you have it, the Dealing With Rude People: Holiday Edition. What are your thoughts? Did I miss anything? How do you handle these situations? Share your insight so we can all try to make this holiday season more pleasant for everyone.


{ 1 comment }

Hazel Nut November 23, 2010 at 9:26 am

Great advice! Especially about the waitstaff! I never underestimate the ability of the waitstaff to do something nasty to my food. If things are bad enough, we just wont ever go back. Thankfully it has been years since I had a bad experience at a restaurant.

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