washingtonpost.com
How to Deal With Bad Behavior

Sunday, September 21, 2008

In his book "The Civility Solution: What to Do When People Are Rude" (St. Martin's Press, 2008), P.M. Forni presents social quandaries and proposes civil solutions to them. He closes his book with a tipsheet on dealing with rudeness, composed by psychologist Arthur Ciaramicoli. If someone's being uncivil to you, consider these points, adapted from the tipsheet, before you react.

1 Don't personalize rude be havior. It's unlikely to be about you, even though it's directed at you.

2 Be aware that rude behavior comes from various sources (sleep deprivation, depression, stress, illness, insecurity, etc.).

3 Respond with calmness rather than behavior that escalates rude behavior.

4"An eye for an eye" is a poor approach; don't turn another's insecurity into your own.

5 Self-righteous behavior only reflects poorly on you; don't use the opportunity to demean another.

6 Try to address the underlying cause of the behavior. ("I can see you are very stressed. Maybe I could help if you tell me what's bothering you.")

7 When necessary, set limits tactfully and assertively, not aggressively.

8 If the conversation remains irrational, know when to quit.

9 Don't assume rudeness is a permanent part of someone's personality. It is a pattern of rudeness (not one mishap) that determines character.

10 In the end, always let empathy -- the ability to read others accurately -- be your guide in understanding rudeness, knowing how to respond to a rude individual and knowing when to leave the scene.

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company