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Is there ever an excuse for rudeness?

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I'm not sure how I would define rudeness exactly, but it is a type of communication that could justifiably offend and cause emotional distress. 

Say you're calling a customer service line with a legitimate reason to be angry—is it OK to yell at the person and use expletives? Or is this kind of conduct always gratuitous?

 

Edited by happiness

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4 hours ago, happiness said:

I'm not sure how I would define rudeness exactly,

Don't tempt O.O. like that, or you'll have three pages of discussion over definitions rather than an actual answer to your question ;)

4 hours ago, happiness said:

but it is a type of communication that could justifiably offend and cause emotional distress. 

Damn, now I'm tempted to clarify this definition further. I warned you! :P

I like your definition, but I would add "deliberate type of communication." Sometimes people offend and cause emotional distress with communication styles that could not be construed by a reasonable person to be rude. Especially in today's messed-up society, a person can make an honest mistake in communication, or merely express his opinion, and people will take offense and be emotionally distressed. They'll be "triggered," as it were.

4 hours ago, happiness said:

Say you're calling a customer service line with a legitimate reason to be angry—is it OK to yell at the person and use expletives? Or is this kind of conduct always gratuitous?

I think if being rude to somebody to "get back at them" causes you selfish pleasure, and there is no particular reason that you'd ever need to engender that particular person to you in the future, then you could argue that rudeness towards that person is justified. Of course, if you derive selfish pleasure from rudeness to begin with, I think that this warrants a critical self-examination.

Could you also derive selfish pleasure from being nice to those people in spite of the qualities in them that you don't like? Turn the other cheek, as it were. That's a strategy that I often employ... if somebody is being rude to me, I usually smile at them. If I get bad customer service someplace, I usually smile at the person who is far too often caught in the middle of a broken system. It's not the cashier's fault that your Wendy's meal took ten minutes to get to you. It's the fault of people that you'll never meet, and it is illogical to "take it out" on somebody else. Usually if you smile you will give them a sense of relief that, yes, it's not their fault and no, they don't need to be worried.

On the internet, I find it far more gratuitous to respond to trolling attempts with humor than to flame the troll right back. They are trolling you to get an emotional response, so if you are rude to them, then far more often than not they take glee in that. Being nice to trolls actually bugs them more than being rude. It confuses the hell out of them.

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8 hours ago, happiness said:

Say you're calling a customer service line with a legitimate reason to be angry—is it OK to yell at the person and use expletives? Or is this kind of conduct always gratuitous?

It depends on why you're calling. If you're calling because a store refused to serve you due to the color of your skin, then maybe they deserve a piece of your mind. In most cases, though, it's probably undeserved. This relates to the virtue of justice.

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17 hours ago, happiness said:

Say you're calling a customer service line with a legitimate reason to be angry—is it OK to yell at the person and use expletives? Or is this kind of conduct always gratuitous?

Instead of "okay" why not start at "good"? Can rudeness sometimes be right & good, and -- in that context -- something other than rudeness be bad/wrong? (Is it true that you always get more bees with honey than with vinegar, when it comes to human interaction?)

Can one achieve some end by rudeness that cannot be achieved otherwise? 

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Maybe there's some better or more effective use of "rudeness" possible, but in my experience, yelling and using expletives neither accomplishes anything in these kinds of situations nor makes me feel better. Rather, it can make both worse.

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On 11/10/2017 at 11:44 PM, happiness said:

I'm not sure how I would define rudeness exactly

You don't have to. Words come with definitions. It's kind of a package deal:

Rudeness is a display of disrespect by not complying with the social norms or etiquette of a group or culture. These norms have been established as the essential boundaries of normally accepted behaviour.

Rudeness has nothing to do with being abusive towards a person. There's a great movie quote by Hannibal "the Cannibal" Lecter, to his tied up, disfigured victim: " Now you're being rude, and I hate rude people." I think it really helps illuminate what the word means: killing and eating people alive isn't rude...the victim using bad words, as it's happening, is.

So it's not so much a question of "is there an excuse to be rude?", as it is "is there a need for an excuse to be rude?". Is being rude a bad thing? Or should rudeness be your default setting, and restraint/polite behavior the setting you need a special reason for?

Personally, I think it's the latter: if you're looking to fit in with a group, especially in a very serious professional setting, you should probably follow etiquette. For the most part. On the other hand, if you're looking to challenge, surprise, amuse, intrigue, etc. a person or a group of people...breaking with social norms is not a bad way to do that. It's why most comedians say shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker and tits a lot (hm... light bulb just went on: maybe I should highlight these...bet more people will read my post...which in turn will make my point...clicks on edit...how do you make something red? I don't think I ever used this feature before :) ).

It's probably also why a certain politician (who already has way too many threads about him, so let's not get into it here too) is so rude, though of course he's doing it in what should be that serious professional setting I mentioned earlier.

P.S. Even in a professional setting, you probably don't want to be 100% compliant with etiquette. You ARE still allowed to be a non-conformist, you just have to be more cognizant of the effect it has on others, because, unlike in your private life or at a comedy show, they're not hanging out with you by choice. If you make them uncomfortable, they can't just leave. That's when it goes from being rude and crosses into being abusive.

Rudeness is not just for professional comedians, either. I would hate to have friends who are always polite. It's boring and dishonest. And I find that most people feel the same way. They might not want to have to deal with "too much personality" from co-workers or clients they can't shut out if it's not to their taste, but outside the workplace, compliance with most etiquette becomes and obstacle to efficient communication. And it's not by accident, either: most etiquette is designed to stop people from easily finding sex partners. That's why so much of it is about regulating men's behavior "especially when ladies are present", and vice-versa.

It also extends to family: I will teach my children to be polite, of course (in the presence of my own parents, for instance, because that's how I was raised, and why stir that hornet's nest...and, of course, at school), but I will not require them to be polite in my presence. Wanna be the cutest five year old ever? Go ahead and swear to your heart's delight. Fart too. Eat with your hands, and talk with your mouth full. Do all four at the same time.

Edited by Nicky

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2 hours ago, CartsBeforeHorses said:

This explains a lot.

Depends if the rudeness is mean. Personally I'm always respectful in terms of arguing and not using insults. But as far as interacting with certain authority figures or higher ranking people, I tend to be rude in terms of treating them as an equal and not obeying the usual norms of formality. It's not mean or cruel, but some people get upset when I don't "know my place". I don't do this to be rebellious, but to get at the truth better.

I think rudeness is rarely justified towards peers. Worth noting is that the Hannibal example isn't about being kind or not using insults. When Hannibal says that, he means ignoring social norms like how to make a nice gourmet meal. In that case to Hannibal, it's rude to wear baggy clothes to that event or eat a steak by jamming a fork into it without cutting it first.

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