An Easy 3-Part Script to Deal With Rude People

How to handle rude strangers in a classy, confident way.
People sitting on bus talking to each other
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Round 1: The Jab

Don’t you just love rude people?

I’d like to share a story about a random rudeness encounter that happened to me one day on the bus, and how I was able to turn that negativity around to end things on a good note – so you can too.

It was an overcast afternoon, looking like it was about to rain any moment. 

I sat on a packed westbound bus, headed to pick up a space heater at Menards, texting with a friend from Portland.

After being heads-down, engaged in messaging for about 20 minutes, he and I signed off. 

I realized the formerly-crowded bus had pretty much cleared out – except for a woman in her 60s, sitting right next to me.

Like, uncomfortably close next to me.

Now, anyone who regularly takes public transportation regularly knows the unspoken rule of “If there’s room to move over, then move over” so that you and everyone around you can enjoy a little more personal space.

My destination was only a few stops away, so thought “Meh, I’ll just sit here and wait it out.”

I started gathering up my stuff and pulled a brand-new umbrella out of my purse. 

The woman next to me suddenly said “Watch it!” and made motions as if she was cleaning off invisible rain that had just splashed on her from my 100%-dry, still-in-the-package umbrella.

I calmly said “Relax. It’s dry.” 

She made the non-existent-rain-cleaning-off motion again and scowled at me.

Having zero patience for rude people trying to take their bad day and / or miserable lives out on others, I rolled my eyes to show she wasn’t going to hook me.

Round 2: The Right Hook

But alas, she didn’t give up so easily.

A few seconds later, the woman turned and said, “This seat is priority for the elderly, like me”. 

I slowly looked around at the other 10-plus empty priority seats around us.

“Um, there’s plenty of available seats. You don’t need to be sitting right next to me.”

She muttered something under her breath and the scowl returned.

That’s when I decided to give her a dose of friendly – i.e. the opposite reaction she was hoping to get out of me.

With my most pleasant smile, I turned and said, “I don’t know why you’re trying to pick a fight. But I hope you start having a much better day.”

That did it. 

Her face contorted into a mix of surprise, confusion, and then anger. 

I wasn’t going to bite, and she knew it.

She got up out of the seat, still muttering to herself, and got off at the next stop. 

Meanwhile, I felt pretty great. Just another day in the life of an offline dating coach.

Moral of the Story

As soon as I realized the bus was empty yet someone was sitting directly next to me, my gut said something was off. 

And it was right. 

So, listening to your gut, even if it doesn’t make complete sense in the moment, is key.

Second, I knew that this crabby lady looking to pick a fight had absolutely nothing to do with me. Which I know can be really hard to keep in mind at the moment, but it’s so true.

We never know what someone is going through, and usually any rudeness they throw at you is actually a desperate cry for some sort of acknowledgment or attention.

Which actually makes it a great chance to give them not what they want (a negative reaction, because misery loves company), but what they need (some kindness).

So the next time you find yourself in a situation where you want to yell “Seriously? What’s your PROBLEM!?” just remember there’s much more at play here – and none of it has to do with you.

But, you do have the power to steer things in a better direction.

Conclusion: Your Simple 3-Part Script

Here’s a simple script you can use the next time you get tossed a random ball of crankiness:

  • Calmly respond to the issue (“Relax. It’s dry.” / “Um, there’s plenty of available seats. You don’t need to be sitting right next to me.”)
  • Go a level deeper and call out what’s truly happening (“I don’t know why you’re trying to pick a fight.”)
  • Wish them well (“I hope you start having a much better day.”)


Picture of Article by Camille Virginia
Article by Camille Virginia

After graduating with a degree in Marketing, I worked in the corporate consulting world for over a decade before starting my business Master Offline Dating to help singles attract love in the real world.

But my true passion (and the secret sauce to my clients' incredible results) is helping people create more meaningful in-person connections in our digitally-disconnected world.

I'm now the #1 Offline Dating Expert, an award-winning writer, and author of two best-selling books. I've also taught over 100 live workshops, reach subscribers across more than 130 countries, and have been featured in major media outlets including the Atlantic, the BBC, and USA Today,

Meet Camille

2 Responses

  1. I just read the first couple sentences and remembered I just had a rude encounter about 10 mins ago. Me and a man were both attempting to parallel park in front of a store. He was first, so I pulled up and activated my reverse lights to let him know that I also wanted to park, so please move back so I can fit in.

    Instead he parked directly in the middle of the 2 spots so I couldn’t park. I reversed and asked if he could move back some. He said it’s not enough room. Well I felt like it was, at the very least move back and let me try. I drive a little PT Cruiser and can normally get into most spots. Either way, what’s the worse that could happen? If I couldn’t fit surely I wouldn’t crash into his car to force my car in.

    Anyway he wouldn’t move back so I had to circle the block until someone came out the store… so RUDE. …

    1. Well that was not very gentlemanly at all!

      So glad you at least asked him and gave him the benefit of the doubt that he may not have know what you wanted.

      I feel like sometimes we tend to dismiss things before we ask for what we want. Although, in this case he was apparently well-aware 😉

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