Rude People in Business

rude people

“Rudeness is the weak man’s imitation of strength.”

– Eric Hoffer, social writer and philosopher

Is it me or does it seem people, in general, are becoming ruder and more ill-mannered than ever before?  And I’m not referring to strangers on the highway or at a ball-game. I’m talking about customers and prospects and business interactions.

A recent email we received is a classic example of the downward trend of what many people think is appropriate behavior.  I won’t go into the details, but the sender, who was a new customer, sent in a curt and quite frankly rude email message that was completely inappropriate.

His facts were wrong and his tone and word choices were improper for any type of interaction, including a customer-vendor one.  Simply purchasing a product does not give one the right to be rude and this particular gentleman was way out of line.

Unfortunately in this day and age, where one can hide behind a computer or phone, there’s a tendency to act in ways most people would never do face-to-face.  It’s like Hoffer says… there’s an imitation of strength.

But it doesn’t stop there either.  Watch any news broadcast (especially the ones on Black Friday) and you can see almost daily examples of discourteous and rude behavior rampant in society.

I suppose you can blame some of this trend on the current economic environment.  Everybody is stressed and on-edge and the main-stream media sure doesn’t help.  But using the what’s going on in the world as an excuse only goes so far.

Being kind and respectful should not be affected by the situation, interaction or environment.  It should be a foundational behavior and trait deep within all of us and one not easily swayed.  The golden rule still applies.

With this in mind, I would like to offer a few suggestions on the topic of rude people in business and open up a dialog to hear your thoughts on this topic.

  • Remember the golden rule and treat others as you expect to be treated.
  • Remember, you can destroy a relationship in a matter of seconds with a rude email, phone call or interaction.
  • Double check all the facts before you communicate.
  • Treat email interactions no differently then face-to-face interactions.
  • Don’t fall into the trap of responding to rudeness with rudeness and as hard as it may be at the time, reply with kindness and respect.
  • Just be nice – life is way too short to be rude.

 How do you deal with rude people?

Do you kill them with kindness? 

Do you give them a taste of their own medicine?

Or do you just let it roll off your back and ignore them? 

I want to hear from you, so leave your thoughts below!


About Mike Capuzzi

I'm a speaker, author and high impact marketing strategist for business owners and sharp, aggressive entrepreneurs looking to get to the next level in their business. I'm also the the inventor of the world-famous CopyDoodles. CopyDoodles are the world's largest library of handwritten fonts, hand-drawn doodles, comics and more designed to grab attention and boost your marketing results!


  1. Pam Schoelless on October 3, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    I slow down in my speech, make eye contact, smile and treat them kindly. Usually, this generates a milder response. This works 95% of the time. I have only asked three people over 35 years to not return to my office. I once had a religous minister chastise me for my unprofessional conduct in front of his wife. I chose not to inform him that I had contacted his wife as I said I would about their return. If he would berate me without checking the facts, I decided I would rather take the heat instead of her and was glad to see him go. I do agree that people are getting harder to deal with.

    • Mike Capuzzi on October 3, 2012 at 2:00 pm

      Thanks Pam. Slow down… that is good advice!

  2. Brian Maroevich on October 3, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    I get rude emails all the time across different niches. But the frequency and tone depend on the niche. For example, in our brick and mortar business, we get rude customers all the time. It’s hard to deal with. On the flip side we also have a lot nice customers. It’s not getting worse in my opinion because there are not as many customer due to the lousy economy. We consistently get rude and polite emails or calls, but I must say the tone has definitely gotten more aggressive. It’s all Bush’s fault (wink).

    • Mike Capuzzi on October 3, 2012 at 2:02 pm

      Brian – you are right, there are a lot of good and kind people out there and overall I think there are a heck of a lot more kind people vs. rude people. But I agree there is definitely a more aggressive tone these days.

  3. Bruce on October 3, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    A central tenet of Marketing is to ignite emotions of greed and entitlement. Marketing breeds an unhealthy mindset that one’s life is bereft, incomplete, and in need of more to be happy. There are other causes but, we have to own that one.

    • Mike Capuzzi on October 3, 2012 at 2:28 pm

      Bruce, not sure what kind of marketing you are referring to, but it seems you are pushing the blame on the business owner? As a marketer, I cannot control anybody’s emotions and I believe any sense of “greed and entitlement” comes from within.

      • Bruce on October 3, 2012 at 3:17 pm

        Where your emotions affected by “copy” of the rude email? Are you saying the emotional impact couldn’t have been heightened even further if he had used Copy Doodles to highlight his argument?

        You are right greed exists internally but, I believe entitlement (consumer you lack XYZ but, you deserve better and when you get it you will be happy) disconnects us from our humanity by training us that consumption is a meaningful source of happiness, then when it isn’t resentment arises.

  4. Edwin Soler on October 3, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    Interesting post. The rudeness I actually deal with is with pushy product vendors. Last week I received what is easily a shock and awe package of sample products. They called me today as a follow up and I will definitely be buying from them. Not because they gave me free samples, although that helps too, but because they decided to serve me instead of demand from me. Mike, you are right with the Golden Rule. You get a lot further being kind and working through a perceived misunderstanding. I say perceived because many times it’s a reaction to something instead of a carful analysis of the facts. If been on th eembarrasing side of jumping to conclusions too quickly. It did end in a happy ending though. Part of the freedom of entrepreneurship is about working with who you want and don’t want. That’s where I strive to be.

    • Mike Capuzzi on October 3, 2012 at 2:26 pm

      Edwin, amen!

  5. Amy Bryan on October 3, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    Its like the saying about “one bad apple.” You have those clients who are raving fans which makes you think what you are doing makes a difference and then you get those that tell you how horrible you are, even if they don’t even know you.

    I tell my staff not to take it personal because there may have been a lot of events leading up to the phone call you received, but its usually not because of something we directly did to that person. Their reason for calling is just the straw that broke the camel’s back.

    We try to tell the person “the fastest way to fix this is…” I find that this helps people concentrate on a resolution instead of on what the problem was or they though it was.

    • Mike Capuzzi on October 3, 2012 at 3:27 pm

      Amy, another writer downer. Thank you for your comments!

  6. Lorrie Morgan-Ferrero on October 3, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    Great topic, Mike! I confess that I like reading celebrity blogs…well I USED to until I started noticing that very phenomenon.


    Then I noticed it in other social media as well. FaceBook. Twitter. Email. Other blogs. It seems to be everywhere. I was getting very upset until I realized that like bullies, they are actually reflecting their own insecurities. It has nothing to do with me, or other innocents who fall in their pathway.

    Deep breathing helps. And so does not being where they are. Now I simply don’t read comments once they take a negative turn, and try not to contribute nastiness myself. It doesn’t always work to “click away” but in general it’s a good preservation policy.

    Thanks for bringing this up, Mike!

    • Mike Capuzzi on October 3, 2012 at 3:27 pm

      Hey Lorrie! Nice to hear from you! “Keyboard Courage” that’s a writer downer for sure! Hope all is well!

  7. Sue on October 3, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    Dear Mike, I certainly agree with your observations. Hiding behind email, voice mail & texting has turned some people into animals! They almost don’t even seem human with the disrepect & rudeness that they display. I recently had one, to which I responded to in a nice professional manner & then I also wished them a better day. (I figured they must be having a VERY bad day to even have thought of conducting business in that manner)Thanks for letting us know that it’s happening to everyone. Kindness will prevail.

    • Mike Capuzzi on October 3, 2012 at 3:26 pm

      Sue, yes, if you are in business its going to happen for sure. Your response suggestions are spot on.

  8. Winnie on October 3, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    I do my best to not read anger or other negative emotions into an email. I also try hard to believe the person is coming from a good place — that they’re just trying to get their needs met in the best way they know how — and they are unaware of how they’re coming across.

    I’ll do my best to strip out the negativity and focus on the issue at hand (they didn’t get their download or their first message wasn’t returned or whatever).

    I then “fall on the sword” as much as possible and apologize for them feeling whatever it is I think they’re feeling (anger…frustration…etc.).

    98% of the time I get a response back with a thank you and an apology. They say they weren’t feeling X and they often then apologize for coming across that way.

    For that 2% of the population that really does cross the line and doesn’t respond nicely I’ll refund their money and let them know I’m not a good fit for them.

    I’ve actually let staffers go when they’ve not played nicely with others on the team and have refused to recognize their role in the negative encounter.

    • Mike Capuzzi on October 3, 2012 at 3:24 pm

      Winnie – good points and you are right, often times people will apologize if its brought to their attention they lacked a certain level of manners.

  9. Pat Lyon on October 3, 2012 at 3:42 pm


    Maybe a reverse of the Golden Rule might work better. Perhaps a better way might be to treat people the way they want to be treated.

    Instead of trying to think on your own of how you can remedy a bad business situation, simply ask them, “How may I be of help or service to you” or “how would you like to see this situation fixed to your satisfaction?”

    This may help to calm down the situation and let’s them see you are actually really interested in them and their feelings.

    Maybe then everything could be resolved to their satisfaction and yours and you still have a happy client or customer.

    This may work most of the time, but you will still have those who are never satisfied and just want to fight or complain no matter what. That’s when it’s time to point to the door, ask them to use it and never come back.

    Just my 2cents for what it’s worth.

    • Mike Capuzzi on October 3, 2012 at 5:22 pm

      Excellent “2 cents” Pat. On all accounts!

  10. Susan on October 3, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    I usually ignore rudeness. Responding to it only adds fuel to fire.
    In my heart I feel sorry for this person because they must be very unhappy and angry with the world. You’re often just the lightening rod!

    • Mike Capuzzi on October 3, 2012 at 5:22 pm

      Thanks for the insights Susan!

  11. Brett on October 3, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    Hi Mike

    Excellent topic today – thank you.

    I deal with my online and offline customers the same way:

    – I try to understand their problem
    – Immediately apologize if necessary (sometimes it’s their own issue)
    – Offer to correct whatever the issue was at no cost, cost or the lowest amount possible (no profit to be made on their mistakes – this is relationship building time)

    When all else fails – I fire them! Some people cannot be helped and I cannot be dragged down to their level. A simple refund and removal from list or return of materials has worked wonders for me.


    PS – Lorrie – loved the “keyboard courage as well”

    • Mike Capuzzi on October 3, 2012 at 5:24 pm

      Brett, excellent advice and you are right some times you do need to do #4. Ironically, we’ve already received a few “interesting” emails regarding this post. C’est la vie.

  12. Ed on October 4, 2012 at 5:59 am

    I’ve been the recipient of emails like that – not nice.

    I always try and remember that, to varying degrees, most people have problems in their business and personal lives.

    Sometimes our emails and marketing pieces arrive at a time when their ‘pressure release valve’ was about to open anyway! 😉

    Key thing I try and remember is to not react instantly – to walk away and leave it for a few hours or a day or more.

    Knee-jerk reactions can only cause bigger problems that often just dissolve on their own.

    My tens cent! 🙂

    Great post thanks.

    • Mike Capuzzi on October 4, 2012 at 7:31 am

      Thanks Ed!

  13. Barbara Naisby on October 4, 2012 at 6:20 am

    What an apt time for this post, Mike. As you know we pride ourselves on our exceptional people skills which rarely if ever let us down, meaning that we have great relationships with our clients.
    However, this morning I welcomed a new client into our practice who promptly started berating us in front of other clients for working in a remote location causing her to get lost and get stressed out. We’d sent her a full Welcome Pack which included step by step directions – she didn’t bring it with her!
    She then sat in our client lounge drinking the hot chocolate I’d made her, didn’t see why she had to fill out a medical history, took the pen I gave her as a gift then continued to complain loudly that 1.She had plenty of pens at home; 2.If she hadn’t prepaid she would just have gone elsewhere; 3. That we didn’t have adequate signage (we do!) and generally made our other clients feel uncomfortable.

    How did I deal with this – absolute politeness & refusal to rise to the bait. BUT, I am so mad that I had to send Gill to nurse with her in the surgery. she’s still in there so let’s see how this works out. NOT our ideal client so we may refuse to take her on! Rant over. Feel better now!

    • Mike Capuzzi on October 4, 2012 at 7:34 am

      Hi Barbara! I hear you! As business owners we too need an avenue to vent when facing rudeness (and it’s key to use escape hatch this before responding or doing something we will regret later). Hope all is well!

  14. Andrew on October 4, 2012 at 8:17 am

    As Jim Rohn said, “There’s really only a few really mean and nasty people. But they move around a lot.”

    I agree with you about rudeness and it’s discouraging. I believe it’s heavily based upon fear. And that’s just another way of agreeing with the caption you used for the picture above: “Rudeness is the weak man’s imitation of strength.”

    • Mike Capuzzi on October 4, 2012 at 10:02 am

      Love the Jim Rohn quote Andrew! Will I see you at BEN tomorrow?

  15. Red Dragon on October 4, 2012 at 9:47 am

    Is it rudeness or is it frankness? Many business owners what mental health hospitals would would label a “colored view” about their business. They believe what they want to believe about their procedures, practices and services instead of what business facts would illustrate.

    • Mike Capuzzi on October 4, 2012 at 10:04 am

      There is a distinct difference between rudeness and frankness. I am referring to language and behavior that would not make your mom proud (and typically would not be done in a face to face situation).

  16. Tom McKeown on October 4, 2012 at 10:26 am


    The roots of anger and rudeness are usually in the emotional & nutritional imbalances we see everyday with our clients utilizing Iridology (the science of reading the fine tissue structure of your iris of your eyes). W see high toxcity levels, a huge amount of stress and nervous system breakdown and of course liver weakness since most anger is rooted in the liver. Unfortunately in this electronic age of 6 second attention spans, most people don’t know how to relax and let go.
    Treating people with kindness is definitely a good start, but with most people living on processed foods and addictions like sugar & caffeine things will only get worse unfortunately.

  17. Mike Chaffee on October 4, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    1) I remember that in an email, tone of voice is EXTREMELY subjective. Just about every email could be read with a sarcastic tone, for example.

    2) I sometimes write out an angry, emotionally-charged response before I cut it and re-write a kinder, more thoughtful response. One must be careful to NOT push “SEND” on the angry response!

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