The Impact of Rudeness and How to Prevent It

We often talked about the positive benefits of kindness, and most know and understand that a positive environment is great for mental health, and physical health too! This week, I would like to look at the inverse of kindness. Specifically, what is the impact of rudeness?

Rudeness is “disrespectful or insensitive behavior.” Our brains tend to react immediately and intensely to it. When someone is rude, our brains interpret it as a threat. The result is a sudden increase in irritability, stress, and altered decision-making.

Several studies have shown that exposure to people who are rude, or verbally unkind, changes an individual’s creativity and hinders their cognitive abilities. Trever Foulk, a researcher at the University of Maryland, said “When it comes to incivility, there’s often a snowballing effect. The more you see rudeness, the more likely you are to perceive it from others and the more likely you are to be rude yourself, to others.”

So, how do we survive and thrive in a world that seems to be increasingly rude and emotionally challenging? Here are three quick tips for lessening exposure to unkind people and words:

  • Practice acknowledging rudeness without emotion. You can acknowledge inappropriate and rude behavior without outwardly responding to it. If you do want to respond, try simple kindness like “hello” and “thank you.”
  • Limit social media use. It’s no secret that the internet and social apps can be an unkind atmosphere. If you notice rude people and find yourself wanting to respond negatively, decrease the impact on your own mental well-being by limiting the time you spend scrolling.
  • Smile more! It may feel forced at first but prioritizing positive emotions and making the effort to smile at others more often will start to become a habit.

If you are struggling to be positive, especially when exposed to difficult people or situations, perhaps a little knowledge on the impact of rudeness can help. Let’s find ways to overcome a challenging world together!