The “No BS” Way to Protect Yourself from Rude, Obnoxious People

Ever get a nasty email or comment from a co-worker, client, or other acquaintance? You know you shouldn’t let it bother you, but it does.

It’s called being human. It happened to me recently when someone told me my writing is impersonal and I need to work on learning how to tell a story. (Kind of ironic to chastise a published author, but hey, crap happens.)

When you’re verbally attacked, here are some “No BS” ways to handle it from this Iowa farm girl, who knows a thing or two about BS:

1. Stay calm, and try to uncover any miscommunication. While a rude person makes you want to dish it right back to them, don’t respond with the first rebuttal that pops into your mind. Remember that sometimes rude comments stem from simple misunderstandings. If that’s the case, take a deep breath, ask questions and try to clear up the miscommunication. (This situation still isn’t an excuse for rudeness, but don’t succumb to the temptation to be rude in return.)

2. Don’t feed the trolls. When you’re attacked online, don’t take the bait. Trolls deliberately post inflammatory comments and start arguments to provoke, disrupt and upset others. Trolls love to create conflict for their own amusement. Don’t reward this bad behavior. Just ignore the trolls’ taunts.

3. Avoid the word “you.” If you’re dealing with a rude person who is not a troll, you don’t have to put up with his or her verbal abuse. Stand your ground. I say, “I don’t accept what I’m hearing, and I don’t deserve to be treated like this.” Notice I didn’t say “you.” Using that word in this case often escalates this situation, because “you” tends to make the other person feel attacked. When a person feels threatened, they often quit listening and get ready to fight.

4. Fire the person. If you have the choice to “fire” a rude person (such as an obnoxious client), do it. Life is too short to waste time with people like this. I usually say, “I really appreciate that you came to me with your marketing needs. I work hard to listen to you and share my writing skills to help you reach your business goals. It looks like we’re just not a good fit, though. Feel free to find someone else who’s better suited to you, and I wish you well.” If you can’t fire the rude person, try to minimize your time around him or her. If this person is negatively affecting your productivity and/or mental health, it’s worth it to remove him or her as much as possible from your life.

5. Be grateful. That’s right—be grateful. Once you’ve gotten immersed in a bad situation with an obnoxious person, start noticing how you interact with friends, family members, clients or colleagues who are pleasant to be around. Makes you pretty darn grateful for all the good, uplifting people in your life, right?

Do you have any “No BS” ways you deal with rude, obnoxious people? I’d love to hear your suggestions.

P.S. Thanks for joining me. I’m glad you’re here. 

@Copyright 2017 Darcy Maulsby & Co. 

11 responses to “The “No BS” Way to Protect Yourself from Rude, Obnoxious People”

  1. Candace Larson says:

    Here’s something I wish I’d read early in my career: “Don’t take anything personally. Nothing others do is because of you…” Miguel Ruiz

    Since your abrasive client is actually fighting his own internal battle, you’re wise to step out of the line of fire. At long last I’ve come to realize that for some people I’m the cushion but for others I’m obviously the needle. (Did I just use too many metaphors in one paragraph? )

    • Darcy Maulsby says:

      Love that quote, Candace! I always appreciate your insights–right on the money (or the cushion, or the needle!) You’re so right. We all just have to remember that we’re not for everyone–and that’s okay.

  2. Pat Granstra says:

    Good advice, Darcy. Another thing that sometimes works is to ask for specifics. “Your writing” may really mean “the one piece I read.” Maybe it wasn’t one of your best pieces. Also put the ball in the critic’s court and ask for specific ideas on how to improve it. You may get good feedback such as to use more anecdotes and fewer statistics.

    • Darcy Maulsby says:

      Asking for specifics is good, Pat. Ironically, the piece of writing in question was reviewed by an experienced editor, and she loved it. I just have to remind myself that my style isn’t for everyone, but the ones who get it love it. I’m always striving to do better and make my writing stronger, more compelling and more effective. It’s truly lifelong learning.

  3. Jill Heisterkamp says:

    Great responses, Darcy!
    You can only please some of the people, some of the time. You will never make everyone happy, so all you can do is give your best, thank someone for their input, and move on. In general, writing can be very subjective…that’s why we have different genres of writing! If someone enjoys reading science fiction, they may not like a fact-based article. The fact that an accomplished editor read and approved your article means you wrote well for your intended audience. This person may not have been part of that audience.

    • Darcy Maulsby says:

      So true, Jill! My work and my writing style won’t suit everyone, and that’s fine. I appreciate the chance to work with the people who “get” me and want to have a productive partnership that benefits all of us.

  4. Sue Carlson says:

    My theory is “you can get along with anyone you are not around”, Live and let live, but not near me!

    Your 5 points to respond are right-on.

    And you cannot ‘make’ someone happy. Happy comes from the inside of everyone, if you are lucky.

  5. Matt Hale says:

    Great responses, Darcy! There are some people that we love a lot more when we aren’t around them.

  6. Molly Blanchfield says:

    I find most often that when someone goes on the offensive like that, it’s usually more of a reflection on how they are feeling about their own performance at the time. They are looking for a place to vet those feelings instead of facing them head on. Usually it’s a case where they are not feeling heard in some other aspect of their life, so they make sure someone hears them about something! These people are often disarmed by simply acknowleding their opinion, making them feel heard, without having to actually agree with them.

    • Darcy Maulsby says:

      Good advice, Molly! Yes, in my experience those kinds of comments usually stem from insecurity on the part of the person making the rude statement. It’s always a good idea to acknowledge and validate someone’s right to be heard, and that doesn’t mean you have to agree with the message.

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