How to Rise Above Rude Behavior

How to be civil and practice good manners even when you’re tested.

By Judith Martin and P. M. Forni from Reader's Digest

     

    You can come out of the house now: Good manners are back in style. But there’s always going to be someone who will rain on your parade. We consulted Judith Martin (Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior) and civility expert P. M. Forni (The Civility Solution: What to Do When People Are Rude) for their tips on how to behave like a human being even when you’re tested.

    How to Rise Above Rude Behavior© 2009 Jupiterimages Corporation

  • 1.

    Presume goodwill.

    “This gives the other person a face-saving way to change his or her behavior. Any diplomat will tell you that the way to negotiate is to give people a graceful way to do what you want them to do,” says Martin.

  • 2.

    Don’t fight rudeness with rudeness.

    “When people encounter rude behavior in others, they often retaliate with rude behavior,” says Martin. “This doubles the amount of rudeness—it doesn’t reduce it.”


  • 3.

    Remain calm.

    “Nowadays, everyone comes out swinging,” says Martin. “[But] we do have to control our tempers—that’s civilization.”


  • 4.

    Practice restraint.

    “If it’s something minor from a stranger, ignore rude behavior,” says Forni. “If it’s from a spouse, friend, or coworker, address it in a polite, clear, positive way.”


  • 5.

    Teach good manners early.

    “When that’s done,” says Forni, “children are less likely to become narcissistic and abusive adults.”