How to Respond to Rudeness:
“I TOLD you to get it for me!!!”

Rudeness tends to gradually get worse if you simply let it slide, causing relationships to deteriorate. But resentment and over-reaction make things worse as well. So how should you respond to rudeness?

When someone is rude to you, whether it is your partner, boyfriend, girlfriend, child, or acquaintance, it’s best not to do respond to the person’s demand. First, let them know that you don’t appreciate his or her rude attitude. The trick is not becoming hostile yourself.

A simple “excuse me?” with a questioning tone of voice often will be enough for them to apologize or rephrase with a more neutral tone of voice.

Sometimes you may have to actually say, “That tone of voice really doesn’t work for me,” or “please don’t yell at me,” or “I don’t appreciate being yelled at,” or “it’s not helpful to sound angry.” Again, the key is to remain calm, and in some circumstances, you may even be able to retain a sense of humor, which is often the most effective way to get things on the right track.

If we let rudeness slide, our relationships will deteriorate over time, allowing disrespect and contempt to take over. It’s very important, however, not to put the other person on the defensive. Thus, stay calm, maintain your dignity, and retain a sense of humor if appropriate.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen

Watch “Dealing with Angry People.”

Read “Criticism and Contempt.”

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Adult with an abusive parent: “I have gotten to the point now that I cannot even handle a phone call from my 80-year old father.”

"Forlorn Heart" by Mimi Stuart ©

“Forlorn Heart” by Mimi Stuart ©

I have gotten to the point now that I cannot even handle a phone call from my 80 year old father. I keep telling myself I’m being silly but every time I have any contact it upsets me so much I get very anxious and can’t sleep. Ever since I can remember he has always criticized me and upset me. As a child he would single me out and rage at me and hit me. I wondered “why me?”

Now his health is deteriorating but he plays mind games where he sounds like he’s dying on the phone. My sister gets angry when I try to say that he was less than perfect. Other people who haven’t seen this side of him think I’m hard and uncaring and he plays on this. I feel very guilty writing this down as I keep thinking maybe I’m being too dramatic.


Dear Anne,

In essence, your father was abusive and he is continuing in that vein by trying to draw you in using guilt as a hook. You need to set a boundary, not only with him but with the others in your life as well.

Vicious cycle of abuse

Being raised with constant criticism and hostility often leads a person to grow up doubting his or her own value and need to be respected. That is why it is so hard to leave an abuser. Raised in an atmosphere of abuse, you wonder whether you deserve the mistreatment or whether you are simply “sensitive” and over-reacting if you cut the perpetrator out of your life. That self-doubt makes you a target for further abuse—by your father, your sister, other people, and even yourself.

Your father continues to be manipulative, selfish, demanding and demeaning, and does not consider what is best for you. Unfortunately, when you have such a parent, it is more difficult to learn to value your own health and wellbeing. Now is the time to do so.

Misplaced guilt

The root of your guilty feelings appears to have little to do with what is best for your emotional and physical welfare. You probably learned to be accommodating as a way to handle the abuse targeted at you. Standing up for yourself probably would have incurred increased hostility. So you learned to become compliant as a defense against further abuse. You may also be subconsciously still seeking the love, acceptance, and protection you did not receive in your childhood.

It is this misplaced guilt and a subconscious desire for parental love that is hurting you now. I think it’s time to set aside your guilt and listen to your inner voice that wants to protect you. You must not allow that inner voice to be drowned out by the voices of your father, your sister and others who have not witnessed your very personal abuse at the hands of your father.

Setting boundaries guilt-free

It is clear from what you say that you need to set boundaries in your life. Where you set those boundaries is up to you. Just don’t let guilt be your guide.

You may want to avoid all contact with your father. Or you may want to send an occasional card. Or you could make a phone call and be direct: “Don’t suggest my taking care of you. As a young girl, I felt scared and anxious around you because you criticized me, shouted at me and hit me. As a result, I can’t be with you. I am simply not available.”

Whether you ever talk to your father again, have limited contact, or confront him openly, the most important step for you is to own the fact that you will not subject yourself to any more abuse from him or from others. You do not need the approval or understanding of your sister or others. Ironically, not until you stop hoping that those who disagree will support you, will they probably stop giving you hard time, and with time they may come to respect you for it.

If your sister or others ask you why you don’t visit your father, simply say, “My experience with him was very different from yours,” and leave it at that. Avoid arguing about the facts and getting into the weeds. Do not let them put you on the defensive.

Eventually, you may learn to understand that your father was incapable of being loving and that his abuse was an unconscious response to his own failures, fears and complexes – not yours. You may even forgive him.Yet understanding and forgiveness do not entail subjecting yourself to further abuse.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Read “Rebuilding your Life: ‘How do I silence their abusive voices in my head, stop being hard on myself and start living?’”

Read “Abusive emails from an ex: ‘I keep defending myself against never-ending false, accusatory emails from my ex-husband, because I want to stay on good terms.’”

Read “Ending an Abusive Relationship: ‘I feel guilty leaving my abusive partner, because I have compassion for him.’”

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Guest Sam Vaknin: “Is My Child a Budding Psychopath?” Don’t Let Them Pathologize Your Child! Conduct Disorder and Oppositional Defiant Disorder

"Roar" by Mimi Stuart © Live the Life you Desire

“Roar” by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

Guest Author Sam Vaknin writes:

If you are a rebellious child or teenager and you have not been diagnosed with Conduct Disorder, you are still at risk of being labelled and pathologized. The DSM informs us that “The essential feature of Oppositional Defiant Disorder is a recurrent pattern of negativistic, defiant, disobedient, and hostile behavior towards authority figures that persists for at least 6 months.”

Unbelievable as this Orwellian, Big Brother text is – it gets worse. If you are under 18 years old and you lose your temper, argue with adults, actively “defy or refuse to comply with the requests or rules of adults”, deliberately do things that annoy said adults, blame others for your mistakes or misbehavior – then unquestionably you are a sick little puppy. And who is to make these value judgements? An adult psychologist or psychiatrist or social worker or therapist. And what if you disagree with these authorities? They get annoyed and this is proof positive that you are afflicted with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). Did anyone mention catch-22?

And the charade continues, masquerading as “science”. If you are touchy or get easily annoyed (for instance by the half-baked diagnoses rendered by certain mental health practitioners), you are ODD (i.e., you suffer from Oppositional Defiant Disorder).You are allowed to be touchy when you are an adult – it is then called assertiveness. You are allowed to get pissed off when you are above the crucial (though utterly arbitrary) age limit. Then it is called “expressing your emotions”, which is by and large a good thing. So tell us the charlatans that call themselves mental health ‘professionals’ (as though psychology is an exact science, not merely an elaborate literary exercise).

The DSM, this manual of the Potemkin science known as clinical psychology, continues to enlighten us:

If you are habitually angry and resentful, spiteful or vindictive and these traits impair your “normal” social, academic, or occupational functioning (whatever “normal” means in today’s pluralistic and anomic culture), beware: you may be harbouring Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). It is not clear what the DSM means by ‘occupational’ when Oppositional Defiant Disorder typically applies to primary school age children. Perhaps we will find out in the DSM V.

“The behaviors must occur more frequently than is typically observed in individuals of comparable age and developmental level.” – the DSM helpfully elaborates. If the child is psychotic or suffers from a mood disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder should not be diagnosed.

Why am I bothering you with this tripe? Because the DSM is ominously clear:

“The diagnosis is not made if … criteria are met for Conduct Disorder or Antisocial Personality Disorder (in an individual above the age of 18).”

Get this straight: if you are above the age of 18 and you are stubborn, resistant to directions, “unwilling to compromise, give in, or negotiate with adults and peers”, ignore orders, argue, fail to accept blame for misdeeds, and deliberately annoy others – you stand a good chance of being “diagnosed” as a psychopath.

Let us hope that the “scholars” of the DSM VI Committee have the good sense to remove this blatant tool of social control from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. But don’t count on it and don’t argue with them if they don’t. They may diagnose you with something.

Children and adolescents with conduct disorder are budding psychopaths. They repeatedly and deliberately (and joyfully) violate the rights of others and breach age-appropriate social norms and rules. Some of them gleefully hurt and torture people or, more frequently, animals. Others damage property. Yet others habitually deceive, lie, and steal. These behaviors inevitably render them socially, occupationally, and academically dysfunctional. They are poor performers at home, in school, and in the community. As such adolescents grow up, and beyond the age of 18, the diagnosis automatically changes from Conduct Disorder to the Antisocial Personality Disorder.

Children with Conduct Disorder are in denial. They tend to minimize their problems and blame others for their misbehavior and failures. This shifting of guilt justifies, as far as they are concerned, their invariably and pervasively aggressive, bullying, intimidating, and menacing gestures and tantrums. Adolescents with Conduct Disorder are often embroiled in fights, both verbal and physical. They frequently use weapons, purchased or improvised (e.g., broken glass) and they are cruel. Many underage muggers, extortionists, purse-snatchers, rapists, robbers, shoplifters, burglars, arsonists, vandals, and animal torturers are diagnosed with Conduct Disorder.

Conduct Disorder comes in many shapes and forms. Some adolescents are “cerebral” rather than physical. These are likely to act as con-artists, lie their way out of awkward situations, swindle everyone, their parents and teachers included, and forge documents to erase debts or obtain material benefits.

Conduct-disordered children and adolescent find it difficult to abide by any rules and to honor agreements. They regard societal norms as onerous impositions. They stay late at night, run from home, are truant from school, or absent from work without good cause. Some adolescents with Conduct Disorder have been also diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder and at least one personality disorder.

Sam Vaknin is the author of Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain – How the West Lost the East, as well as many other books and ebooks about topics in psychology, relationships, philosophy, economics, international affairs, and award-winning short fiction.

He is the Editor-in-Chief of Global Politician and served as a columnist for Central Europe Review, PopMatters, eBookWeb , and Bellaonline, and as a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent. He was the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory and Suite101.

Visit Sam’s Web site.

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Ten Reasons Not To Complain:
“She is so annoying. I can’t stand it!”

"Tuskegee Airmen, American Royalty" by Mimi Stuart © Live the Life you Desire

“Tuskegee Airmen, American Royalty”
by Mimi Stuart ©

If you want to improve your life it’s important to be able to be assertive and speak your mind. However, if speaking up turns into a habit of complaining, your life and the lives of those close to you will suffer.

Here are ten reasons not to let complaining become a habit:

1. It is unattractive. When people complain, they tend to use a whiney tone of voice, which in itself is a turn off.

2. You will push interesting people away. Who wants to hang out with someone who complains all the time? It is boring and tiresome.

3. You will attract insipid friends. The friends you end up with will be uninteresting and tend to be victim types because they have nothing better to do than to participate in vent sessions.

4. Your negative emotions become ingrained. Just think about all the things you might complain about—bad service, annoying people, or faulty technology. Simply thinking and talking about these things makes you feel irritated. Complaining triggers your negative emotions and ingrains them deeper into your neural pathways as your normal way of being.

5. It is ineffective in improving things. If you want to improve life, you need to be discerning, and you may have to speak up to change something. Complaining, however, tends to focus on the negative aspects of a situation rather than on how to change it. So instead, focus on how to fix the problem, or, if that’s impossible, change your expectations.

6. It makes the problem worse. What you focus on tends to gain energy and get exacerbated. For instance, if you complain to your partner that he or she is too shy with new people, focusing on it will make him or her uncomfortable and constricted rather than relaxed and outgoing, resulting in increased reticence. If you were to focus on his or her positive traits, e.g. being thoughtful or well read, for example, then he or she is likely to feel more confident. Focus on the positive – it will be rewarded.

7. It is a waste of time. Complaining takes up time that you could use to enjoy life or to improve it. For example, instead of talking about an annoying friend, you could be calling a friend who is not annoying, going for a walk, reading a book, or having an inspiring conversation.

8. It will wreck your relationships. John Gottman found that relationships will be fulfilling over the long-term if 80% of your communication is neutral or positive, that is, appreciative or respectful. If, however, more than 20% of your communication is disrespectful or hostile, then your relationship is likely to deteriorate.

9. Complaining furthers your lack of self-control. When people complain, they are embedding the bad habit of saying everything they think. It is helpful to be observant and discerning. But having the self-discipline to not say everything you think is a crucial skill for enhancing relationships and life.

10. You will cheat yourself of pleasure. Research shows pleasure is derived from anticipating something positive. There’s more joy in improving a bad situation than in complaining about it.


If you have a valid complaint to make against someone, it may be important to speak up. Speaking up with a request for change is different from complaining. If you are complaining you are venting, making negative judgments, reinforcing victim status, and preventing closure.

Simply explain to the appropriate person why something bothers you, and request that a change be made. Pay attention to your choice of words, your tone of voice, and your body language. If that person can’t or won’t accommodate a reasonable request, then take other steps or change your expectations or your relationship to that person.


In essence, to avoid the detrimental effects of complaining, grumbling, and bellyaching on your relationships and wellbeing, focus on transforming negative circumstances into positive ones. Have the courage to take action rather than to complain. Focus on improving your life and appreciate what is already good about it. Your positive vitality will attract people who are self-empowered and your focus on what’s possible will bring amazing possibilities into your view and your reach.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen

Read “Triangulation: ‘My ex can’t stop complaining about me to my child. I feel like doing the same right back.’”

Read “Getting over your Victim Story:’My brother got all the attention.’”

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Inquisitive Parent: “My dad asks too many questions. Why is he so nosy?”

"Take Off"—Blue Angels by Mimi Stuart© Live the Life you Desire

“Take Off”—Blue Angels by Mimi Stuart ©

It’s normal for parents to want to connect with their kids. Asking questions or wanting to give advice may be the way they attempt to connect with them.

It’s almost always best not to become reactive, angry or recalcitrant, particularly when your parent is well-intentioned. Instead, try to preempt your dad by finding a way to make that connection without having to answer questions that you don’t feel like answering.

You could find a way to approach him first. Have a few questions ready for him. For example, ask him about his youth, early jobs, school, friends, difficulties, challenges, movies, books, where he got his political leanings etc. before he gets a chance to ask you too much.

When he asks you something, give a brief answer without getting defensive, and then say, “What about you, Dad, when did you go on your first date?” You might not be very curious, but it will take the focus off of you, and the answer could be interesting.

You could also disclose some information about yourself that you don’t mind disclosing before he starts asking questions. Talk about an event at school, at work or in the news. If you make the effort to connect and converse on your terms, he may not be as interested in inquiring about the private details of your life.

If you persist in keeping everything completely private, that will only provoke his interest. For instance, if you never mention anything about whom you’re dating, he will be more interested than if you give him just the basic information in a nonchalant tone of voice.

The best defense is a good offense, although in this case we’re not talking about a fight, but about an attempt to make a human connection.

One day if you have kids, you too may stumble a bit in trying to make a connection.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen

Read “Too Much Attachment: ‘Honey, you’re so smart and talented!’”

Read “Dreading intrusive questions at family gatherings: ‘It’s none of your business!’”

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“Didn’t you hear what I just said!”

"Moderato" by Mimi Stuart ©  Live the Life you Desire

“Moderato” by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

So… what I really meant is…

“I don’t think our views are that far apart. We’re just coming at it from different angles. Tell me what you think I’m saying so I can clarify my ideas better.”

Attacking a person hinders communication and damages relationships. If you want to open someone’s mind or heart, don’t imply that they don’t listen and can’t understand simple logic.

To have an effective discussion, you need an underlying attitude of respect, which conveys a desire to appreciate the other person’s perspective and to come to a mutually-accepted understanding.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Read “Conversation and Active Listening: ‘It seems like I do all the talking.’”

Read “Giving Advice: ‘She never listens to me.’”

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