You know the situation. Your colleague at work or your neighbor or a member of your congregation says something rude to you. For a moment, you are stunned, taken aback—and unable to utter a retort. So, you let the indiscretion pass, and then you mull it over and over on your drive home.
You rehash the comment until you become angry again and then defeated because you failed to deliver the perfect comeback…the one that came to you on your ride home. Argh! That is the worst.
Turns out there is very good reason we are momentarily, cognitively affected when someone is rude to us. According to researchers, rude behavior reduces performance on routine tasks as well as on creative ones. It also decreases helpfulness.
One study revealed that rudeness in the operating room could actually be deadly.
Now, rudeness may not have life or death consequences (unless you work in the medical field), but think how it can affect your relationships—at work, with your family and even at church.
[bctt tweet=”Rudeness can inhibit the grace we share with one another. Rudeness can damage community.”]
Science tells us why we may not be able to deliver that perfect comeback as much as we would love to. But if you don’t address rude comments or let them roll off your back, it will affect your attitude about your coworker, neighbor or congregation member.
Rudeness can disable our ability to be kind and helpful. Rudeness can inhibit the grace we share with one another. Rudeness can damage community.
Jesus calls us to love one another (John 13:34). Maybe that means holding our own tongues when we are about to say something rude. Even a small rude comment can hurt someone.
Let us remember that if we say something rude and the receiver has no comeback, it doesn’t mean there are no consequences.
Elizabeth McBride is the director for Intergenerational Programs and editor of Café. She is especially aware how rudeness can affect building and sustaining an intergenerational community.