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One thing I haven’t had a shortage of experience with is dealing with rude people. This doesn’t mean I’ve managed to find an acceptable response to rude commentary, observations, suggestions, or advice.

Take, for instance, last week at church (*I didn’t date this, so I have no idea when “last week” was). A brother walked up to me, greeted me with a hug, looked me up and down, then said, “you look like you gained a few pounds.”

Not only did this seem rude as it’s just rude to say, but I was standing talking with two other brothers at the time. I was also wearing all black, but that’s beside the point.

“I don’t think I have,” I respond. I’ve actually been active and have maintained, if not lost, my weight in recent months.

“Yes, bout ten or fifteen pounds,” he continues. Ten or fifteen pounds? That’s a really big baby. I look like I’ve gained a large baby. Thank you, brother in Christ.

“You’re not supposed to walk up to a woman and say they look like they’ve gained weight,” on of the other brothers says, saving me from having to respond. As he went over the fine points of small talk etiquette with his brother, I made my escape.

In the past few years, I’ve been asked if I was pregnant, told I was getting fat, given unsolicited hair advice, had my outft critiqued, and been told to get married (or burn in Hell–burning implied more than said), with startling regularity. We won’t talk about the rude creditors (which I am glad to say I no longer have calling me), bad attitude having customer service representatives (if I didn’t hit you, don’t holla), and discourteous strangers and drivers. Has our society gotten ruder overall, or just here?

I admit, Southerners are famous for thinking they can say whatever they want as long as they add “bless his/her heart” on the end. Ex 1: He’s dull as a butterknife, bless his heart. Ex 2:That’s got to be the fattest woman I’ve ever seen in my life, bless her heart.  But enough is enough.

How do you respond to such rude comments without getting rude back? What’s the polite way to alert someone to their etiquette faux pas? I’ve tried:

  • blunt honest response to question/suggestion
  • expressing my satisfaction with my current hair care regimen, workout plan, eating habits, etc.
  • laughed it off
  • made a quick escape
  • complained
  • asked for advice

with varying degrees of success in diverting embarrassment and hurt feelings.

So help me out. I believe in general that we teach people how to treat us. In other areas, I am successful at this. I’m not sure if it’s my nice demeanor, my childlike stature and wide eyes, some perceived ineptitude, or some unknown variant, but I seem to have a sign that invites rude critiques and commentary.

How do you deal with rude people? What methods work best for you?

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