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Why Do We Accept Rudeness?

By Guest Blogger, Mary Schmidt, Marketing Troubleshooter 

Talktothehandjpeg Bear with me - I'll get to a marketing point soon.

We women do tend to be more sensitive to slights than men. Perhaps because we didn't go through manly bonding rituals like being forced to wear the same pair of dirty underwear on our head for all seven days of Frat Hell Week.  Oh, Noooo, we're much more subtle - which further hones the sensitivity. (There's no worse dissing than a southern belle referring to you as "such a nice girl." Honey drips from the fangs. The tone and word speak volumes, none of them good. And, yes, southern belle-hood is still alive and well.)

But, why does anybody put up with rudeness?  We've come to accept it as the norm. If we get acceptable service - as in the company simply does the basics - we're ridiculously happy. If a company actually treats us like human beings and does just a little extra ("Oh boy, they refunded my postage for mailing back the broken product!") we'll practically have to be pried off their (virtual) ankles before we'll leave 'em. Why do companies not understand this? They're run by people, after all.   

I'm reading Talk To The Hand, The Utter Bloody Rudeness of the World Today, or Six Good Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt the Door, by Lynn Truss.  The book is very funny and if you're a certain age, you can really relate.  Here's a snip re those maddening recorded fake apologies:

..."And isn't it confusing that our biggest experience of formal politeness comes from the recorded voices on automated switchboards - who patently don't mean it? 'We are sorry we cannot connect you at this time,' says the voice.  But does it sound sorry? No, it doesn't...

An interesting rule applies here, I find: the more polite these messages, the more apoplectic and immoderate you become, as you lose twenty-five minutes from your life that could have been spent, more entertainingly, disinfecting the S-bend." 

Here's the wacky marketing idea for companies:

1. Don't say sorry unless you mean it.

2. Mean it.

Always, always  put politeness before process. (and recruit, train, compensate and empower your employees accordingly.)

Very politely yours,
The Cranky Marketer


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Teresa Morrow


I think that this is a vital important component for EVERY and ALL businesses. There isn't a reason to be rude to your customers, employers and anyone. I realize that sometimes people do not get along, however, you can allow someone to know that they are being rude and even if they denounce it, you haven't just let it go.
However, the other side of this "coin" is that there is the bigger picture of resolving issues when they arise instead of focusing on someone being rude.
I hope that I am getting my point across that it needs to be stated when someone is being rude, so they know that it isn't acceptable however, also realizing that the bigger picture is about not allowing someone else's attitude or rudeness to overwhelm the rest of the business growth.
One of the quickest ways to deter customers is rudeness (I think).

Nice post and good timing for International Customer Loyalty Month as well.

Thanks Mary!


Yvonne DiVita

Mary, if that's cranky, I must be beyond cranky. I think I'll get that book you're reading...sounds like a great summer read on a lazy Sunday afternoon, but with content I can use on Monday.


Great tips for any business, thanks. Quality customer interactions with both women and men are incredibly crucial for growing!


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