I’ve always struggled with how to deal with rude people, which in the world we live in, there’s a lot of them. I find myself always going back and forth between the “killing them with kindness” route and the “treat people the way they treat you” idea.
To add to my internal struggle, I work in retail. This means that I encounter rude people all the time. The other day, I was at work and I decided that I would go with the treating people how they treat me method. My natural personality is to be in a good mood, so when the numerous kind customers came to my register, being polite back was easy. I had a bit more trouble, however, when the first rude lady came through.
At first, I greeted her with a pleasant “Hello, how are you?”, to which I got no response. I quickly put my guard up, but also kept in mind that she might not have heard me. I continued to ask if she needed any bags for the items she was purchasing. Her answer was short and aggressive.
I paused and looked at her for a few moments, before continuing to scan her items. She had a few blankets which she lifted onto the left side of the counter. I scanned the items, leaving them in the same place she put them. We didn’t exchange any more words until I completed her transaction and handed her the receipt. “Can you give me my items?” She said with a condescending tone.
I looked at her. You want me to move the items to the other side of the counter when you can clearly reach them yourself, and you’re the one who put them there? I thought to myself. I picked up all three blankets in my arms and (literally) plopped them down in front of her. She gave me a nasty look before picking up the blankets. While turning around to leave she muttered at me “Well you don’t have to be so nasty.”
I quietly laughed to myself before warmly greeting the next customer.
I’ll admit I didn’t feel great after the interaction, but I also didn’t think I did anything wrong. With that being said though, I’m not sure if I could do that every single time, I encountered a rude stranger in public.
I think this little experiment gave me a result I can stand behind. Instead of fully treating people the way they treat me or killing them with kindness, I can be kind but still stand up for myself. I also learnt that sometimes it’s easier to just leave it alone. If someone takes an unpleasant tone or responses with one worded answers, whatever. If someone is rude to the point where they are disrespecting you, that’s when you can kindly but firmly stand up for yourself. Ultimately, it’s about balance and knowing when it’s worth saying something, and when it’s not.