I've been making a more conscious effort to work on my social skills lately. Particularly soft skills dealings with random people in public places. My shrink recommended that I do the obvious thing, "Go out in public, and do something that you enjoy doing, while making an honest effort to interact with other people."

I figured that adjusting the way I play darts would meet the requirements, so that's what I've been doing once or twice a week.

Last night I ran into a familiar irritation. Rowdy, drunk, guys. They were playing pool, beating their chests, and shouting back and forth about their shots, sexual prowess/orientation and how that somehow related to their ability to play pool. Whole lotta:

What!?! What now!?! Did you see that shot!?!

Followed by a long back and forth about who was gay and who was the bigger man... While literally beating their chests.

The first couple of times, I laughed, but as things progressed they gradually got louder and more obnoxious about it. Eventually it got to the point where I couldn't get in the groove and play darts. It was just too loud and too distracting.

I'm wondering if there's an effective strategy for getting guys like these to settle down in a situation where they're at full volume and escalating their weird alpha male competition.

The old me would have went straight to open hostility and potential violence, but I'm trying real hard not to be that person anymore. Jail is unpleasant and filled with these sorts of situations.

I ended up dealing with it, by not dealing with it. I just played darts distracted and poorly till an older couple schooled them on the pool table (beat them in a game, gaining control of the table).

Is there a way to get guys in this sort of situation to chill out, without being aggressively confrontational?

  • 38
    Have you considered that you might be going to the wrong environment? Why not do what you're doing with a darts league if there is one (or start one)?
    – Jim W
    Commented Jun 29, 2018 at 21:55
  • 2
    @JimW the pub I normally go to is usually quiet on week nights and earlier in the evening, that's a big part of why I like it.
    – apaul
    Commented Jun 29, 2018 at 23:34
  • 1
    @apaul pubs have a natural cycle between being quiet and loud. E.g. one at my place is a family restaurant at day and pub/dance at night.
    – Kromster
    Commented Jul 3, 2018 at 5:51

7 Answers 7


Finding out if you are in a bar where this is the norm or exception can go a long way in making sure you are not needlessly putting yourself in this kind of situation.

Per the comments, you can ask the bartender "is it always this loud in here?" and this will give you a hint whether to expect this rowdy behavior frequently.

It's very possible that the bartender cares about your experience and will try to help you out or it's possible that they simply say "Yeah, get used to it."

Normally a bartender will have the "magic" touch for talking with drunks and persuading them to change their actions.

Engaging with drunks is like doing ballet with a bear. You either have to be swift or you have to be up to par on their level.

I have witnessed a bartender yell at some guys:

Hey, guys! STFU, you're being loud

and they less-loudly responded with:

Oh s**t, sorry Jim! Our bad everyone, sorry for being loud.

Clearly they know one another through some means but I would assume that you personally saying such things would not end as well for you.

If the bartender ignores your requests then you can decide to leave that establishment. You are in control of where to show your patronage.


I know it may seem a herculean task, but you need to swallow the irritation. If you confront them while you're thinking the way you've written this post, it will show through. I can tell you from dealing with a younger brother that you need to master yourself before you can master the situation around you.

If they're being truly loud and obnoxious, some other patrons have probably noticed as well. Take some time to look around the room and see if you can spot the annoyed glances in their direction. If you approach others who are also annoyed at the boisterous behavior, they'll probably help you confront the source.

This adds some validity to your complaint, since clearly more people are annoyed. Not to mention, you may make some friends with the other patrons and this will give you more practice with "random people in public places."

When actually confronting, I don't think there's anything I can add that Jess didn't already say.


It's a gamble to ask anyone in a bar to quiet down if they're already being loud and rowdy.

Before you approach anyone, consider if they are being enough of a distraction that you would leave the bar if they don't quiet down. I say this because there's always a chance (with any IPS problem involving someone who is drinking) that your communication will be taken negatively, regardless of how friendly/genuine you may approach the drinking individual. Any interaction here may increase the undesired behavior of a drunk, obnoxious stranger, and you may ultimately force yourself into needing to leave the bar to cool down from such an interaction.

That disclaimer aside, I've found that I had the most success in my college town when I would say something like:

"Hey, would you guys mind toning it down just a little?"

When you say it, smile, laugh, and possibly even admit your reasons, as this will lower the possibility of them feeling provoked by your request:

"I'm trying to practice darts and I'm having a hard time concentrating."

Most of the time folks would respond with an "oops, we'll try to be quieter", and only a few times did I ever have anyone stay the same volume or get louder (note: I'm coming from one of those 'midwest nice' type of places so maybe that effects my response rates as well).

While there are bound to be folks who are itching for confrontation when they drink, I've found that this was always the best way to set myself up for success.


You don't.

Bars are noisy places by definition. Alcohol makes people talk louder. (and make them think they're witty, handsome, brilliant, and other fallacies) That's why people go to bars, to unwind a bit and get away from structure.

Part of playing darts in a bar is blocking out the loud noises, and even balancing when you get jostled by the occasional drunk. If you can't throw darts in a bar without also experiencing the ambience of the bar, then you're not really playing the game of darts in a bar.

And the other players will notice that, thus degrading your interpersonal goal. The point of darts in a bar isn't so much to be the highest scorer, it's to be one of the guys, to share an experience, even a minor one. Part of the game is hazing the person throwing the darts... who can come up with the most obnoxious comment? The dart thrower is expected to focus past that banter. Actually hitting the dartboard is optional.

Just focus past the noise. It's part of the game. If you recognize and accept all of the rules of the game, even the unwritten ones (such as don't take darts in a bar very seriously), your interpersonal skills will get a big boost.


Unless you are the bouncer or bartender or some other employee, you don't. You either talk to an employee, asking them to do something about it or you let it be, leaving if it disturbs you sufficiently.

This isn't limited to dealing with loud drunks. You don't tell other adults what to do. You complain to someone that has the authority to tell them what to do, or you live with it one way or another.

Random people that stop by to tell you what you should do, should be at the least be ignored...


Is there a way to get guys in this sort of situation to chill out, without being aggressively confrontational?

A friendly statement can go a long way in solving this issue.

"Hey, could you guys keep it down a bit? It's a bit distracting."

From my experience on the "party floor" of my residence in university, sometimes the people get so caught up in having fun that they don't really notice the other people around them. There would be times when people would be banging on my door or blasting music loudly at 2am, and me politely telling them to keep it down or watch what they do goes very well.

If that doesn't work, you could always try asking the bar staff if they are being excessively rowdy, which does seem to be the case. Drinking does weird things to people and can make them react poorly to a statement that they would see as perfectly reasonable when sober. The staff have full authority to throw people out, so the threat of being escorted from the place can stop some drunks. The ones that don't listen and continue to be rowdy will get thrown out anyways.

A non-IPS solution (but still a solution non the less) is to wear earplugs or headphones. As iDeal said in their answer:

"You can't change the way another person acts. Only the way you react to their actions".

For the most part I do agree with this statement and good quality earplugs can block out noise and let you concentrate on throwing darts.


In a friendly and we're-all-buddies tone, immediately after they yell, yell back (slightly less loud) "Gentlemen. How can anyone think around here with you guys making such a loud ruckus." Laugh a little. Smile. Spread your hands out wide, open palms facing up slightly like a mild question, body facing them, unafraid, unstressed. Make sure your tone falls at the end and you use a deeper voice rather than a higher one—you are asking a question, but your tone suggests a statement. You're not asking. You're not complaining. You're speaking as one kind of rough, loud, confident person to another.

Pass it off as a friendly jab. You're not really serious... or are you? You've made them aware without making it a big deal. You're not really bothered (it appears). You don't speak again about it. If they're still too loud, you leave.

If you were to end up chatting with them a little, exchanging names and making a surface contact/friendship where you shot the breeze for a minute or two, then you'll have built enough capital that you could try one more attempt: "Hey guys, by the way, it seems like you're really enjoying this game, but you're so loud, how am I going to explain to my wife that I need five-thousand-dollar eardrum surgery, and she can't buy a new Louis Vuitton handbag after all?" You cannot sound annoyed. It has to be off-hand. It has to sound like a joke that actually has a chance of making them laugh.

Source: I suggest this particular technique as an implementation of "calibrated questions" and active listening from the book Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It by Chris Voss. He mentions tonality some, but the rest of the tonality advice I'm taking from the Charisma Matrix YouTube channel. Plus some inspiration of my own.

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