We’ve all had those moments when we wanted to escape the presence of a stranger who trapped us in a conversation. As a keen observer of human behavior, I’ve experienced all of these in the past month. That led me to a list of things not to do if you want me to like you.
- Sit too close. Nothing is more uncomfortable than someone sitting on a bench right next to you when there’s plenty of space a few inches away.
- Lean in. Unless we’ve been introduced, I don’t want you leaning into me. Not that I think you have cooties or anything like that. More, it’s a matter of giving me a little space to breathe. And possibly not be overwhelmed by sour coffee breath.
- Spray spittle. Some people have moist mouths. If you are one, please recognize your spit zone and keep outside of it. I may need a bath, but I’ll choose the time, place and method for it.
- Talk incessantly. Want to turn me off? Say, “Hi. Let’s talk about me.” I’ll ask questions, but I don’t want a treatise for an answer.
- Ask me a question and then answer it. Yup. We’ve probably all done this. We’ve certainly had this done to us. See #4, because #5 is a variation on the theme.
- Ignore everything I say. See #4 and #5 above.
- Maintain a total focus on yourself. See #4, #5, and #6.
- Look around while your talking. I think you’re looking for someone more interesting than I am if you continually look over my shoulder for your next victim. Look at me when we are talking. You may move on in a few sentences. I’ll give you my total attention; please do the same.
- Check your Apple Watch or smart phone constantly. Nothing says I’m not important than you checking message on any smart device. I end up thinking I’m less interesting that your local weather report that just buzzed your wrist.
- Respect my time. If I’m sitting at my laptop in a library or coffee house and typing happily away, I’m working. When I look up or take a break, that’s a good time to chat. Same thing holds true for social media. You may think I’m active because certain apps open automatically when I boot up my laptop. I may be; I may not be. Ask.
- Floss. That’s right, floss. A woman sat down across from me in the library the other day and pulled out her floss. In mid-back-molar floss, she had to tell me something. The floss dangled while she spoke. Hard to look away from waving white string.
- Last, but not least, fart. Please step away. It’s impossible to ignore wafting abdominal gas.
These won’t make me many friends, but I will be your friend if you remember to mind the manners your momma taught you.