We all encounter people who act as if their conversations are more important than ours. They seem to feel they are entitled to take up as much of the conversational airspace as they want.
Here’s the story of my Rude Talker encounter.
I am sitting beside the pool at a Florida hotel, ready to relax. A woman nearby is loudly negotiating a real estate deal on her cell phone. “I can get it for you at the right price, and you can always rip out those bathrooms,” she squawks. Looks are tossed her way from every lounge chair—and not one person makes a move to restore quiet.
How might you handle this situation? Would you speak up, look away, or take some other action? As you take a look at my choices, I invite you to consider what you would do?
Choice One: Retreat
One option is to use a passive responsive to tune out the offending chatter, even though we’re feeling annoyed and our anger is rising. We can choose to retreat into ourselves by focusing on our book, meditating or doing whatever it takes to stay in our present moment, in spite of what is going on around us. This requires us to basically ignore the Rude Talker and take care of ourselves.
Choice Two: React
Option two is to use body language as an indirect way to react to the Rude Talker. This might be an eye-roll or loud sigh. It could possibly get the Rude Talker’s attention and serve as a reminder that that their voice is loud enough to be heard by others and is interfering with the peace and quiet of those around them.
Choice Three: Respond
Option three takes our actions up a notch and moves us to respond in an assertive, direct way. A low-level response would be to exercise an action that’s within our realm of control, such as leaving the area or moving our seat—hard to do if we’re stuck on an airplane next to a Rude Talker—though headphones help! Or we could make a polite request that might sound something like, “I’d really appreciate if you could lower your voice since I’m trying to read.” Another option might be to seek the assistance of the appropriate staff member (hotel concierge, flight attendant, etc..). By letting them know of the problem then they can respond (and we are less vulnerable to the wrath of the Rude Talker).
Choice Four: Revenge
Option four involves an aggressive or passive-aggressive action. We could yak away on our cell phone or turn up the volume on our conversation. We could dish out to the Rude Talker what they’ve been dishing out to us. Even better, we could even wait until the Rude Talker has stopped talking and then interrupt their peace and quiet with our rude behavior. Of course, as tempting as this might be, people are unpredictable, so I don’t recommend this option!
Here’s the rest of my Rude Talker story.
I thought through my options and what the impact of each might be. Here’s what followed:
- Retreat. I tried working on my mindset and focusing on my book. After rereading the same page a dozen times I realized that my resentment was interfering with the possibility of Option One working.
- React. I gave the Rude Talker a few measured , lengthy looks. We locked eyes at one point and she kept right on yakking. Failed again.
- Respond. After overhearing her long and nasty conversation, my gut instinct told me that anything I might say would turn ugly. So, I decided to stay within my realm of control. I scooped up my towel and moved as far away from the Rude Talker as possible. Situated at the other end of the pool, I was better able to tune out the Rude Talker.
- Revenge. As I stood to leave I caught a glance of the Rude Talker, now sound asleep poolside. I had a devious lapse into fantasy, longing to plop down in a nearby chair and call my sister for a chat. With every ounce of self-control I kept on walking.
Sometimes talking to ourselves is the best choice of all.
My motto is: SAY IT, which is an acronym for: Speak and You Invite Transformation. In most situations I muster up courage and thoughtfully determine what to say. But, I’d say that this was one of those times that transformation was best achieved by simply speaking to myself. What would you say?
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