Many believe that as soon as an outrageous comment is made in the company, they will immediately witty silence the offender. Unfortunately, in reality, not everyone can boast of such a reaction.

Why We Don’t Always React to Rudeness

One of the main reasons is fear of possible consequences. If I tell my boss that he’s misbehaving, I’ll definitely lose my promotion. And if I bring up this topic during a family feast, I will never be invited to visit again. Nobody wants to make life difficult for themselves.

Another, no less significant reason is the uncertainty in the interpretation, in the fact that we correctly understand the situation. Was it a bad joke or a rude comment? Is it a petty fight that got out of hand, or a manifestation of domestic violence? We don’t want to appear stupid or vulnerable, so we rarely stand up for ourselves or others in uncertain circumstances.

Sociologists have repeatedly confirmed that in unambiguous situations we react more actively. During one research The scientists compared responses to vague and definite signals for help. In the first case, the participants in the experiment heard a loud sound in the next room, in the second it was accompanied by a groan of pain. And in the latter situation, people were much more likely to rush to the rescue.

The lack of active action under uncertain circumstances is partly due to the experience that those around us will judge us. This explains why, according to one from studies, only 19% intervene in an altercation between a man and a woman when she yells, “I shouldn’t have married you!” At the same time, if she exclaims: “I don’t know you!”, 65% are already trying to help. The internal conflict of two strangers makes us embarrassed and uncomfortable, so we try not to interfere in someone else’s personal life.

A natural human impulse when faced with an uncertain situation is to follow the reaction of others. But the problem is that no one wants to be the first to enter into a conflict, so we are still waiting for someone else to do it. Unfortunately, with such a development of events, rude behavior remains unpunished and is repeated again.

But the good news is that a few simple methods can help you learn to stand up for yourself and protect others in conflict situations.

How to respond to rudeness

1. Express your position clearly and briefly

This will prevent you from slipping into lecturing or humiliating another person. The task in this case is to note that everything that happens is wrong for both the aggressor and the observers.

During one research its authors studied reactions to homophobic comments in the workplace. It turned out that the most effective were calm and direct replies, such as: “Hey, this is not cool.”

This approach can be used in almost any situation. Open disapproval shows the aggressor that his behavior is unacceptable, and this is the first step towards creating healthy social norms.

2. Treat an unpleasant remark as sarcasm

Sometimes this disarms the interlocutor. Let’s say your colleague makes a sexist comment like “A woman can’t be a good boss.” This can be answered like this: “I know that you are just trying to joke. Although, imagine, there are people who really think that women are too emotional for high positions!

Such a reaction will show that you do not agree with the comment, but will not offend the other person.

3. Explain discomfort through personal experience

For this fit facts from your life. For example, if you are uncomfortable with some kind of conversation about religion, you can answer as follows: “I am a believer, and I would not like to hear this.” So you show the interlocutor that his remarks are inappropriate, but do not get personal.

4. Try different tactics regularly

Learning all kinds of techniques is not enough, they must be applied in life. This will help you deal with embarrassment, build confidence, and act naturally during conflicts.

5. Look for like-minded people

According to Stanford University sociologist Doug McAdam, we are much more likely to challenge social norms, even at the risk of ourselves, when we are not alone. Change very often starts with one or more people. People see their courage and join them. That is why it is easier for us to protect ourselves and others when we feel the strong shoulder of a loved one nearby.

6. Put yourself in the place of another

Deciding to fight back against rude people is much easier if you put yourself in the place of the person who is being bullied. Some of us are empathic by nature. If you are not like that, try to train this quality in yourself. After all, if you yourself became the object of ridicule or physical force, would you really not want someone to support you? Try to be that person for others.

Each of us can learn to stand up for ourselves and those around us. And the more often we do this, the more situations silence and inaction in society will be replaced by courage.