Why Are People Rude and Unkind & Why It Isn't About You
I bet that you have wondered many times in your life "why is this person so rude?" Perhaps you have also asked yourself why can't people be kind to each other all the time? We would all benefit from a kinder and more caring world, right? So, why is it that some people choose to be mean and rude towards their fellow human beings? Is it something they are born with? Are people born self-centred or are they just a product of their experience? Let's find out!
What do we mean by 'rude people'?
Before we try to understand why are some people rude, we must first delve into what being unkind actually means. So, let's consider some examples.
1. Those people who take your turn in the queue and don't care.
2. The people who don't help you when you trip and fall.
3. Those who don't volunteer to carry your groceries when your hands are full.
Importantly, when we say people, we do not mean people in general. These people do not have to be strangers, it could be your friends, family members, colleagues, or even your partner. A person you regard as unkind can be a loved one who does not know how to comfort you, or does not care about comforting you when you are feeling sad. Or, it could be your colleague who goes behind your back and bad-mouthes you. Or, it could be those friends that don't even ask you "how was your day?" Rude people can mean anyone who makes you think: "how can you be so selfish? How can you be so self-centred?"
4 Reasons Why People Seem Mean or Unkind
The behaviors of these sorts of people can lead us to believe that they have no feelings and no empathy. We might think that they don't see anybody outside of their own bubble, and tend to judge them as self-absorbed, self-centred, selfish, or narcissistic even. Whether that is the case or not, we are not here to judge or label people. Rather, we must attempt to explore the truth. And, the truth can be more complicated than this.
So, with that in mind, let's discover some reasons why some people can come off as mean, rude, or unkind.
1. They might be neurodivergent
To start with, somebody who is not so comfortable with comforting somebody else, or aligning with their feelings and understanding somebody else's feelings can be a person that belongs to the neurodivergent spectrum. For instance, somebody who is in the autism spectrum (ASD), or struggles with ADHD (aka attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). The neurodivergent spectrum is very diverse and there are many types of neurodivergent individuals out there. Whether they struggle with dyslexia, Tourettes, or ASD, some neurodivergents might find it difficult to read social cues or interact with others. Sometimes we are surrounded by neurodivergent people but do not know, and we judge them too fast. So, one valid reason why some people come off as rude is that they might simply be neurodivergent.
2. They might not know how to be kind
Not all people who seem rude or unkind are neurodivergent. Many neurotypicals can be rude and mean. Why is that? One reason why people can be rude is because they simply do not know how to be kind. This is something that I have seen in my therapy practice many, many times. Simply put, some people have never been taught by their family how to be kind. Their families have never taught them how to tend to other people's feelings, how to be compassionate, or how to offer help. And, some individuals have never seen these sorts of behaviors coming from their parents. They did not have a kind, compassionate role model while growing up. If we don't have access to positive role models, it is very unlikely that we adopt positive behaviors.
We are all born self-centred. As babies we do not care about others. We do not care if our mother is tired or not, we will cry all night long until we receive food. As children we can be quite self-centred because our most primal instinct is to get our needs met. As we grow up and learn that there are other people around (with their own set of needs and desired), we begin synchronizing our needs so that we can all be fulfilled. So, we slowly learn how to include others in our lives and begin to care for them. However, someone that was not provided with a positive and nurturing environment, has not had the opportunity to learn all these valuable social skills. Some people have simply never been taught the important skills of empathy, compassion, and kindness.
3. They do not understand feelings
Another reason can be that they have been brought up in a family characterised by isolation and loneliness. For instance, take a child that has been raised in a household where one of the parents died, and the other parent was grieving for a long time, neglecting the needs of their children. In an environment like that, chances are that the children learned that it is a better idea to stay isolated in their own bubble, without sharing what is going on inside their heads. If someone's first life experiences were marked by emotional repression and loneliness, it is likely that as they grow up they learn to solely take care of their own feelings. It is also likely that they (falsely) believe that other people do not want to tend to their feelings. While growing up, these children learned that no one cared about their feelings, and that caring about other people's feelings is not an essential part of relationships. These children simply learned how to survive by themselves. In other words, they were emotionally neglected, and as a result, they do not know how to relate to others, tend to others, and understand others' emotional worlds.
4. They might struggle with trauma
One last possible reason is that this person is struggling with trauma. If a person has survived relational traumas, abuse, betrayals, bullying, and so forth, it is likely that they have internalized the idea that they are not important in other people's lives. They have probably learned that they are a burden to others and might feel immense guilt because of it. They might blame themselves for whatever happens in other people's lives, or even fear other people. As a result, survivors of trauma tend to be more protective of themselves. And, it makes sense. If someone has survived a traumatic experience, they might have learned that other people can be dangerous; that they must keep others at arm's length or they risk getting hurt again.
The Bottom Line
It can sometimes be easy to label other people. However, before we judge others, let's try to pause for a minute, and ask ourselves what might be behind their behavior. It is actually more helpful for you, for them, and for the relationship, if we take a minute to reflect and wonder "what coping mechanism lies behind their actions?"
We must not, of course, try to do this with everybody. It can be exhausting to try to figure out where everybody is coming from. However, try to practice this with the relationships that matter in your life. With the people you love or cherish. For example, with your partner. There might be things you do not like about your partner. For instance, you might resent that they are not very fast at picking up the signals you are sending. If you pause and wonder why your partner might be a bit slower at picking up these signals, you might realize that there might be a valid reason behind their behavior. And, you can begin a dialogue about it, you can begin to work together in order to create more safety in the relationship, foster better communication, more empathy, and connection.
It is always possible to change and improve—both in relationships and as human beings. The only thing we need is some curiosity and the willingness to understand others. It is very easy to criticize others, but more difficult to understand. Let's try to create a more understanding world. Take care.
TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE.
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