Dealing with rude people

If there’s one thing I really can’t stand in life, it’s rudeness.

A few years ago, when I was trying to pay my way through university, I worked weekends in a call centre. Almost every call was from someone with a problem, and almost every “someone” who called was rude, abusive and sometimes even threatening to me. Someone even asked me what I looked like one, so that he could “send the boys round” to “deal” with me when I finished work. It was that kind of job.

Throughout all of this, the one thing that kept me sane was the knowledge that one day I’d work for myself, and from that day forth I’d never have to deal with rude people anymore. I’d be my own boss, and if I didn’t want to deal with someone, I wouldn’t have to. I couldn’t wait.

Well, that day came, and, to my disgust, I’m still dealing with rude people on an almost daily basis. Sometimes it’s mild stuff, like the people who send me emails to tell me that my website is “not working”, without so much as a “hello” (or, indeed, proper punctuation), and don’t bother to either tell me what the problem is, or thank me when I fix it for them. Those kind of people make me roll my eyes, sure, but they don’t make me want to gouge them out with a sharp instrument rather than have to deal with them.

That reaction is reserved for the really rude people – like the lovely lady who’s been sending me emails for the past few days now, screaming at me in all caps about the difficulties she’s having regsitering for the site (difficulties which, I might add, lie not with my website but with her own paypal account). The emails are illiterate, rude, and, quite frankly embarrassing.

It’s hard to know how to deal with people like this. I could, of course, give her instructions on how to contact paypal’s technical support, although she has indicated an unwillingness to do this. I could offer her an alternative form of payment. I could do that.

The fact is, though, that I don’t want this woman’s business. To be brutal, she’s what I call a toxic client: someone who’s more trouble than they’re worth. If she does sign up for the site, I know she’ll cause trouble from the get-go. I don’t think she’ll be able to navigate the members-only area, and there will surely be more rudeness as a result. Would you allow someone to shout at you for the sake of $10?

But here’s the problem: I don’t want to be rude myself, and there’s no really polite way to say to someone “I wouldn’t deal with you if you paid me”. So what to do?

The strange thing about all of this, is that the person who’s been sending me these emails is actually an established freelance writer. You’d think she’d know better. I can only hope she manages to keep the rudeness reigned in when she’s dealing with clients and editors…

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