Sticky situations: personal space

Jenna Marble’ latest YouTube video has me thinking about rudeness in public. It’s the ghost hand that comes out of nowhere at the grocery store, the person who cuts you off at the escalator, the person taking over your rack in the clothing store, not to mention the person at the bar who’s all elbows. What’s a polite person to do?

You don’t want to be rude yourself, but at the same time you don’t want them to walk all over you.

Here’s some good news, you don’t have to be a pushover! There are ways to assert yourself without getting into a bar fight or a passive aggressive glaring match.

1. Keep your usual speaking tone (no going Jersey Shore)
2. Say, “Excuse me.”
3. State the problem. “I was in line ahead of you”
4. Give them the benefit of the doubt. “You must not have seen me.”

Giving the person the benefit of the doubt is usually the turning point for me, since it gives so-and-so an easy way to excuse themselves, and also gets the point across that you’re not trying to start a fight with them. You just want to sort out a mistake.

Keeping a casual tone is really important too. How many times have you seen someone yell at the person who cut them off and the other person responds with, “oh I’m sorry darling, here’s your parking space back.” Never.

Would you want to respond nicely to some stranger yelling at you? No, you probably wouldn’t (even though being a polite and polished person, you would refrain.)

You can’t win them all, though, and sometimes there’s that a-hole who insists on monopolizing the sweater table, or getting their drink first. Don’t let it bother you – it’s an example of their weakness, not yours. Give them the benefit of the doubt, and move on. Maybe they’ll even see you later and apologize. Hey I’ve seen it happen!

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