It’s nice to think that the world is all rainbows and butterflies. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
Regardless of how nice you may be, you’ll occasionally stumble upon rude people.
They’re a staple of life. Like death, taxes, and the certainty that you’ll never be able to correctly plug in your phone charger on the first try.
Perhaps it’s the unfriendly barista at your favorite coffee shop, a coworker lacking empathy, or a loved one you’re having a disagreement with.
When they blurt out a rude comment, it’s normal to feel shocked and hurt.
How you respond, however, can determine not only the course of the conversation but whether your relationship with the person can survive the momentary setback.
Pouring fuel on the fire will only cause more drama.
Instead, use these 15 phrases if someone disrespects you to de-escalate the situation.
1) What do you mean?
If you’re not sure if the person is actually disrespecting you or simply doing a poor job at making their point, ask for clarification.
Sometimes a person is rude. Sometimes, it’s all a misunderstanding.
Before you go off, fight back, or walk away, double-check that you’re not taking the comment out of context.
You can proceed from there.
2) Do you realize how that comes across?
On the same note, there are times when someone who makes a rude comment doesn’t even realize that the comment can be interpreted as rude.
Personally, I prefer to repeat something in my mind before I open my mouth, especially if it’s a statement that can come across as controversial.
That said, political correctness doesn’t come naturally to everyone.
Some people are naturally impulsive and have a tendency to talk before they think things through.
If that’s the case, your best approach is to try to open their eyes and educate them.
Asking them if they know that their comment was disrespectful is a step in the right direction.
3) That’s offensive/rude/hurtful
Do you prefer the blunt approach?
Then add this straightforward phrase to your arsenal.
Clearly stating that you find their comment offensive makes your feelings on the matter clear.
Once you say it, the other person will know that they did something wrong. You’re basically giving them a chance to apologize and explain themselves.
Of course, there’s also the chance that they’ll double down on the rudeness.
When that happens, retreating from the situation might be your best bet.
This brings us to…
4) Please excuse me for a moment
Not in the mood to deal with toxic behavior? Extricate yourself from the situation.
Taking 10 minutes to collect yourself can make the difference between approaching the conflict with calm and making a scene.
If the person was disrespectful in a public or professional setting, it’s even more important not to let your anger get the best of you.
Once you take a few deep breaths, you can approach the rude party again and talk things through, preferably away from prying eyes.
5) Maybe you could use 5 minutes to yourself?
A similar approach, but one that’s preferable when you either don’t have the option to walk away or you think that the person who offended you is the one who would most benefit from a time-out.
People tend to lose sight of their manners when they feel irritable.
Taking a short break from the conversation might put them in good spirits.
When they return, you can pick up where you left off and explain that you found their remarks unkind.
There’s a chance they’ll be more receptive after they have had a chance to cool off.
6) Someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed!
Humor can do wonders to diffuse a tense conversation.
As a lifelong conflict-avoider, I often make jokes when someone is on the warpath.
It’s not always the healthiest approach, but it’s a solid option if you were having a good time before the person disrespected you, and you don’t want to ruin the vibe.
Like if you’re at a party and you want to spare the other people present the discomfort.
Once the tension has passed, you can take the person who offended you aside and bring up how they made you feel.
7) I will let your rude statement slide since you’re clearly going through something
When you know that the person who is being disrespectful is having a hard time in general, giving them a pass is the smart way to go.
This phrase lets the person know that you wouldn’t tolerate their rudeness under normal circumstances.
However, you’re willing to make an exception to accommodate their current difficulties, putting yourself in a good light.
8) I can see your point, but I have to disagree
This is a very polite way to inform the disrespectful party that while you can understand where they’re coming from, you’re very much not having it.
It’s also a phrase that can kick off a productive discussion.
As long as you’re willing to argue your case, you can then go into detail as to why their comments were hurtful.
Hopefully, the person will receive your feedback in a constructive way.
If that doesn’t happen, proceed to number 9).
9) Let’s agree to disagree
Sometimes you engage in a debate with the person who hurt you, but you’re still unable to reach any conclusion or compromise on the matter.
You can continue to talk ad nauseam, sure.
Or, you can end the conversation in a way that doesn’t undermine your feelings.
This phrase conveys that you’re sticking to your guns, yet you understand that the argument is going nowhere.
This is a good choice when the person who disrespected you is a co-worker or supervisor.
It’s best to let it go to avoid further unpleasantness in the workplace.
10) I can see that you’re upset, but please don’t take it out on me
A powerful statement that manages to kill two birds with one stone.
On the one hand, you acknowledge the person’s feelings. On the other, you’re making it clear that you won’t tolerate any sort of disrespect.
Hopefully, feeling seen will be enough to make the other person offer an apology.
If it doesn’t work, you can take things even further by employing a delaying tactic.
11) Perhaps we can talk things over when you calm down
This communicates that you expect the other person to adjust their attitude before you dive into the matter.
As a bonus, it earns you time to process the rude comments as well.
Plus, the phrase shows that while you refuse to escalate the situation, you’re mature enough to leave a door open for reconciliation down the line.
Once things blow over, you two can sit down and mend fences – given that’s something you both want.
12) I’m sorry I made you angry, but I won’t tolerate this level of disrespect
This phrase is a good fit when you share a little blame for the person’s disrespectful comments, but their response is disproportionate.
For instance, you started by gently teasing them about something, but their reply was considerably more hurtful than your initial taunt.
It’s a great way to set boundaries.
You ensure that the person understands that you’re never on board with them crossing the line.
13) When you say things like that, it really hurts my feelings
A great phrase to keep handy when the one who wronged you is a loved one – and it’s not the first time when it has happened.
It enables you to reveal that you’re hurt while also shedding light on a behavioral pattern the other person might not be aware of.
Additionally, it can lead to an eye-opening discussion that validates your feelings and prompts your loved one to change for the better.
14) Are you okay?
Hurt people hurt people.
If someone is lashing out, there might be something deeper going on.
Asking them if they’re okay is unexpected, so it may be enough to calm the situation.
Even better, it may persuade the person to retract their comments and open up.
15) You are being rude/inconsiderate, and I need you to stop
When all else fails, there’s not much you can do except shut things down.
The phrase lets the disrespectful person know that their attitude is unacceptable and that you won’t stand to be spoken to in such a rude manner.
Emphasize your point by walking away.
Being the bigger person when someone is unkind is preferable to having a brawl, but only as long as:
- It’s not a big deal
- The comment wasn’t that malicious
- This hasn’t happened before
- You know that the rude person is in a bad place
If the bad behavior repeats or you’ve been really hurt by their words, stand up for yourself.
Bullies should never be tolerated.