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syz's avatar

Do rude people get some kind of advantage for being rude?

Asked by syz (35846points) January 28th, 2008

I deal with the public – I’ll grant you that I often see them at their worst (asking for payment after an emergency medical situation with their pets) – but some people seem to make a career of being rude and obnoxious. Do they get their way more often if they’re rude? Do they cause people to relent or just give up? Surely there must be some learning curve that rewards the behavior. Does it affect their health to be so unhappy so often? Surely no one is taught to aspire to being a jerk! How do some people go through life being so unpleasant?

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6 Answers

Zaku's avatar

Yes, it’s a self-reinforcing habit which generally has an easy short-term emotional payoff, and a much greater but less obvious (and harder to admit) long-term cost.

lifeflame's avatar

I know that some kids are rude just so that they get attention. I’m sure that rebelling against the norm/authority also makes people feel powerful.

Interestingly enough, one thing that I’m learning as a classroom teacher is the strategic use of anger. As a person, I generally believe in rational discourse, but I find that some kids will just push and push to test your boundaries.. and at some point you just need to explode—not because you are actually emotionally at the point of explosion, but because it is strategic tool to a) get their attention and b) underline your point.

Used well, you only have to do it once or twice.

I think rudeness in general backfires where you are dealing with people, but when a process is being blocked (e.g., it’s taken three weeks and they’ve sent you running around filling nine different forms), I imagine that expressing one’s frustration in the of the system/incompotent people can be surprisingly effective and cathartic.

Unfortunately, I don’t express frustration probably as much as it is healthy to. I’ve been taught to be nice.

I wonder if there is a situation where I might want to be rude for strategical purposes…?

artemisdivine's avatar

sadly yes indeed the world is truly the rudest it has ever been. personally i attribute a HUGE amount of blame on the cell phone and computers (yes i am old enough to have been around BEFORE computers AND cell phones and the world ran quite fine thank you very much)

here are some interesting links. and i dont think it will ever get better sadly. rudeness is just a very selfish way to act. it is all about ME ME ME. and it is generally not a good way to get people to see things your way or come to some kind of amicable conclusion.

Snippy voice mails, flaming e-mails, foul language and unreturned phone calls have become all too commonplace in the workplace.
In fact, every territory seems to be increasingly hostile; road rage already has mild-mannered motorists driving in fear, while workplace rudeness has increasing numbers of office co-workers figuratively if not literally cowering under their cubicles.

My newspaper column today is about the lack of manners in everyday life.
“The sense of what is appropriate behavior – the sense that there is such a thing as appropriate behavior – is diminishing across our culture. Considering what other people will think has been replaced by a reflexive recitation of one’s rights to do as one pleases…The guy spewing high volume F-bombs into his cell phone in an airport terminal, the woman chomping her gum with bovine indifference in a doctor’s waiting room – they seem oblivious to the world around them, focused only on their own small spheres. If you asking them to stop, they would probably say, “Why”?

Workplace stress and tension are rising, which manifests as rudeness and inappropriate behavior. To put it bluntly, there is a serious decrease in politeness and common courtesy in the workplace. It may start with unanswered telephone messages, not holding a door for a co-worker, a rude comment or a look, omitting “thank you” and “please,” or simply not smiling.

From the minor slights of sales clerks to the worst cases of “road rage,” it’s clear that Americans are intensely frustrated by the lack of respect they encounter in their daily lives. But what counts as rudeness today? Do Americans have a shared definition of what is rude and what is someone just doing his own thing? In our latest survey, Aggravating Circumstances, funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, Public Agenda takes a detailed look at what Americans are thinking about courtesy, manners, rudeness and respect.

Rudeness SurveyStirs Up Public Debate about the Decline of…
Rudeness is on the rise in. our society, they say, and not just the

When I was asked if I’d like to write an article on the theme of civility, my first thought was, at last! Finally, I can vent about all the rude, uncouth people out there. The indifferent store clerks. The cell phone-blabbing restaurant-goers. The fuming drivers. The noisy neighbors who play bass-heavy, horn-blaring African pop music on their stereos at 11:00 pm. At last, I can tell the world how it is — and get paid for it. How satisfying to be a writer! My plan was to just dash off some quick thoughts on all the boorish behavior out there, pass a few judgments, remind everyone of the importance of respectful behavior, and that would be that.

Are we experiencing a rash of surliness, a decline in respect, an escalation of violence, or the vanishing control of shame? The experts see a rising new curve of rudeness, while older sensibilities descend the downward slope toward quaintness. Ready or not, we’re in for a lengthy public conversation about civility. It’s the key term for the waning years of our millennium.

Common courtesy doesn’t exist anymore. Civility, manners, and politeness are nostalgic memories. We’re more mean-spirited than ever.
At concerts, in the air, in supermarkets, in business dealings, at sporting events, everywhere, people are selfish, angry, rude and crude (doctors are even being cited for rudeness in malpractice suits). The media has been taking notice of our bad manners and bad attitudes and some of their observations, insights and suggestions are politely offered here for you to access:

Another concern of mine, relating to adults as well as children, is the lack of civility and respect in our society. Of course, how can you expect children to practice civility and respect for others if their parents do not teach them?

We seem to be living in the midst of an epidemic of rudeness. Articles in the newspaper document the number of incidents of road rage. And if you doubt that, just try to merge onto a busy freeway and see how many drivers honk their horn or try to cut you off.

Manners. Morals. and Misbehavior in Modern America
Have Americans become more rude? Mark Caldwell reviews the history of etiquette in the United States to put modern manners in perspective.
In July, when my 10-year-old grandson was asked what he wanted for his birthday, he suggested a croquet set or a gift certificate for The Gap. When I couldn’t find a suitable croquet set—and I’ll never know how much of a concession that was to Grandpa—the boy got his Gap certificate and was thrilled to bits.

jballou's avatar

As much as I’d like to say otherwise, I’ve gotten a lot further in my goals by being rude then being polite. There’s a lot to say for general etiquette, sure- but at the same time if I’m on a conference call and I want to make my idea heard by my colleagues, do I cut someone off or wait my turn? I was a chronic “nice” guy for most of my life, and at some point, I got sick of it and guess what? People respond to you in a much different manner. It kind of sucks, but I can tell you from personal experience that YES there is definitely an advantage to being rude.

Zaku's avatar

@jballou: So now you can work on how to get attention without being rude. It isn’t the only way.

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