Sometimes we have interactions with someone who seems rude, thoughtless or self-centred. This can make us feel annoyed, hurt or frustrated. The behaviour is rude but is the person rude? Could there be a reason for the behaviour and perhaps we need to be more understanding or make some allowances rather than assuming the person is 'rude'.
Just a few of the many behaviours which can seem rude are -
interrupting others who are talking
monopolising the conversation
not participating in small talk
avoiding eye contact
a weak handshake or avoiding a handshake
not acknowledging someone
What are possible reasons whysome people might behave in these ways.
Interrupting I used to get so annoyed with someone who frequently interrupted and changed the topic. I felt I was being disrespected and that my opinion didn't matter. As a result often I didn't bother talking about some topics with this person because i didn't want to be interrupted. It was a major problem in our interactions.
This person exhibited many signs of having Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. While I was doing some reading I came across information stating people with this condition often interrupt others because of their disorder. Although I still dislike being interrupted I can now see there may be reasons for a person to do this other than them being self centred and rude.
Monopolising a conversation Have you ever been with someone, perhaps an elderly person, who monopolises the conversation once they start talking? It could be because they like to have centre stage and aren't interested in what others have to say.
On the other hand their hearing may be failing and they don't want to admit it. When others are talking they can't follow the conversation due to their hearing problem. They feel left out and isolated. However, if they are doing the talking they know what is going on and feel included.
Small talk Have you ever attempted small talk only to get simple one or two word responses? The other person doesn't attempt to initiate any conversation and the feeling is awkward. You feel you should be conversing but the other person isn't making any effort at small talk.
While it is possible the other person can't be bothered talking, it could be that he/she just doesn't have the skill and it may be difficult for that individual to learn what many people pick up easily.
People with Aspergers Syndrome tend to have difficulty with small talk. Many are happy to have in depth conversations about topics they are interested in but to them small talk is a waste of time.
Culture has an influence on small talk. In some cultures small talk does not play an important part in social interactions. The topics and type of questions people feel are acceptable to ask will vary according to culture and being uncertain of what to say without being considered rude may stop some from participating in small talk.
Eye contact If you live in Australia, the UK, Western Europe or the USA you have probably been brought up to consider it good manners to establish eye contact when engaging in conversation. Doing so is believed to show you are engaged in the conversation and are trustworthy.
However, in some cultures there are different ideas about appropriate eye contact. In some Middle Eastern countries women are discouraged from too much eye contact with men as this is seen as showing romantic interest. In places such as China and Japan people seen as in a subordinate position avoid steady eye contact with anyone in a superior position. Therefore an employee will not establish prolonged eye contact with his employer because it would be considered rude.
In many Latin American and African cultures prolonged eye contact is interpreted as aggressive and hence regarded as very disrespectful.
People with Aspergers syndrome may avoid eye contact because it makes them feel extremely uncomfortable. I have read what people with Aspergers syndrome say on this topic and found some get agitated when they force themselves to maintain eye contact. Others find it harder to concentrate on what the other person is saying if they are also concentrating on making themselves have the sustained eye contact which is what is expected of them.
People with social anxiety are also likely to have difficulty sustaining eye contact.
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Hand Shake A firm hand shake is considered respectful and a sign of someone who is confident, reliable and can be trusted. Bad luck then if you are unable to grip another person's hand firmly due to arthritis, multiple sclerosis, stroke, carpal tunnel syndrome or another condition.
Prosopagnosia If someone you have met or someone you know well does not acknowledge you it may not be that they are snubbing you. They may have prosopagnosia and be unable to recognise faces. This condition can make social interactions difficult for a person.
Yes, there are rude people in this world. Some ignore social conventions or purposely do things to show they don't care about the feelings of others. They may even intend to hurt the feelings of those they come into contact with. Others simply do something considered rude out of ignorance of good manners. Then there are those who need some understanding because the behaviours which appear rude are due to causes beyond their control. In some circumstances they may be able to modify their behaviour so they 'fit in' more but to do so they need the support of those around them rather than censure.