A few weeks ago we wrote a blog called "Walking Your Talk: How Do You Treat a Waitress?" We had a great response and so this time we thought we would look at the same issue from the other side: How do we deal with people who are rude?
There is no doubt that waitresses can get the worst of it. On a daily basis they have to deal with people who are inconsiderate, uncivil, and disrespectful. As Deb remembers: When I was much younger I was a waitress in a Gentleman's Club in Mayfair, London, when one man was particularly rude, arrogant and discourteous. I got so angry I 'accidentally' dropped his plate of food all over him. I lost the job but momentarily felt avenged!
Whether a waitress or not, we all meet rude behavior at different times, such as when we are driving and the person who cuts in front of us gives us the finger, or crowded subways with people shoving and grabbing for a seat, or people line-jumping in front of us. Ed is a skier and on a crowded ski slope people can be rude and even dangerous when they suddenly dart out in front as you are cruising downhill.
Ed goes to the gym daily. This morning there was a man in the swimming pool wearing ear-plugs, flippers, goggles and a snorkel while swimming the butterfly stroke noisily and wildly across two lanes. When he was coming towards me I got his attention and asked if he would let me pass as he was taking up two lanes. He got really indignant and rude. I tried to explain the situation from my perspective but he didn't want to know. I went into the steam room and began to do a simple meditation, taking the man into my heart. But first I had to acknowledge what a rude dude he was and that I really wanted to dunk his head under the water!
Rudeness is defined as: lacking delicacy or refinement; coarse; of untaught manners; uncivil; ignorant; lacking chasteness or elegance.
All of which makes it sound like a voice of the ego, a voice of the selfish, offensive and impolite part of human nature--which, when attacked, pops up like a monster needing to retaliate. We all have this potential, just that some of us give it more volume than others.
So how do we deal with rudeness? The waitress gets even by pinching their asses! But how do we not let it upset us, or make us want to be rude in return?
A man can't ride your back unless it's bent. Martin Luther King, Jr.
We have personally found the best way to deal with rudeness is to respond or think of the person with kindness. This may sound hard to do in such a situation, but the alternative is not so much fun. When we engage with rudeness, it triggers our anger, and that can stay with us all day or even longer. Two wrongs do not make a right. When we respond with kindness, we can walk away from the encounter without another thought.
Kindness enables us to see the person for who they are without our having to take it on.
So they want to be rude, fine! Let them be rude. It makes them happy! To the person who throws us a finger when driving, we wish them well and hope they live a long time!
Kindness is saying I respect myself and therefore I respect you; I care about myself and I care about you. You can be as rude as you want, but I choose to respond with kindness.
Being kind also means acting with integrity, as that is a sign of respect. Our friend Arielle Ford talks about this and the importance of staying true to our word and doing what we have said we will do.
This really showed itself when we had an appointment to interview a well-known person for a project we were working on about integrity and meditation. The day and time was all arranged. Then he blew us off without even letting us know. We were very forgiving as anyone is capable of missing an appointment--you never know what might have happened. We were told that he forgot and so we arranged another day and time. But again he blew us off and never even called to cancel.
This was blatant rudeness, and although it was obviously annoying it did us no good to dwell on it. We were much happier to have seen his capacity to be rude and to then just let him be. We did not try for another interview.
Whenever we are confronted with rudeness we silently repeat: May they be well, may they be happy, may all things go well for them. This makes us feel much better in ourselves and, hopefully, the other person will also feel better. May we treasure ourselves and treasure others.
So how do you deal with rudeness? How does it make you feel? We would love to hear from you!
Ed and Deb Shapiro are authors of over 15 books, and lead meditation retreats and workshops. Deb is the author of the award-winning book Your Body Speaks Your Mind. Their latest book, BE THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can Transform You And The World, with a foreword by Robert Thurman and A Message From The Dalai Lama, will be published in October 2009 by Sterling Ethos. They are corporate consultants, and the creators of Chillout daily inspirational text messages on Sprint cell phones. See their website: www.EdandDebShapiro.com