I am usually very good in avoiding people, when I don't want to talk to someone at work or home I either change place or express some intentional rudeness in order to kill any attempt to have a chat.

Things are very different when I am stuck with the driver in his taxi, I can't simply go to an other room nor can I risk being rude to someone who has my life and time in his hands. I live in the UK.

  • 1
    Don't put answers in comments please :)
    – ElizB
    Jul 12, 2018 at 2:38

5 Answers 5


Why not just go straight to the point, being polite and nicely say:

[ I'm tired / have a lot on my mind / feel more comfortable in a car if I focus on the road ], I'll use this trip to rest and de-stress, I hope you don't mind if I remain silent while you drive.

If you don't want to talk, just say that when you get into the car, and you're done. You won't have to tell you don't want to chitchat as it won't even start.

Usually, cab drivers just want to be nice and offer small talks. They think it can please the customer and maybe be rewarded with a bigger tip. They often respect customer's choice and don't bother you (experience based: UK / USA / Some countries in Europe and Asia).

As long as you say it with no intention of being rude, carefully choose your words, it won't be misunderstood.


Treat adults as adults. Unless there's evidence for some nontrivial impairment, interact with people in a manner that assumes they know how to navigate the world with a degree of confidence and without having hair-trigger reactions to disinterest by others. Tiptoeing around everything, giving phony excuses, and a fear of offending just stifle social interaction, so avoid these behaviors. Intentionally being rude is just a bit worse than those. Don't uselessly burden his attention and patience with being hard to talk to either, that needlessly puts the stress of trying to keep a conversation going on the cabby. A simple

Cheers mate, but I'm not really in the mood for chatting.

or some straight-to-the-point variation should do. Don't complicate simple things.


I think the reason why a taxi driver wants to chat with someone is when the passenger looks like they have nothing to do (read: bored) while in the middle of the trip.

Perhaps it's not everybody's hobby, but I usually take and play with my smartphone after telling the address. While that's what I usually do to kill time in public (in a sense that I don't explicitly tell people not to talk with me, because I am actually okay with it), drivers also tend to avoid initiating a conversation when they see it, unless it's important like, choosing the route/avoiding tollway, etc.

However, when they still try to initiate a conversation, I have to reply that I'm busy, like,

Sorry, I'm a bit busy now.

Lying or not, it's true that I'm currently busy with the thing on the smartphone.

Reasonable people tend to avoid initiating conversation when the opponent looks busy, especially if they're stranger. However, this is my anecdote in Asian culture where individualism is quiet strong (in fact, I have never had a chat with any taxi drivers...).


I have used Uber and Lyft several times with a smartphone out through the course of the ride and drivers are almost always silent past hello and confirming my name and destination, unless I speak first. If you want to avoid conversation, try to appear busy, and look anywhere but at the driver.


The honest thing to do is to tell them upfront that you don't want to chat. Else, do what everyone is suggesting here - use a phone. Smile at the driver and say Hi as you get into the cab. Immediately, take out your earphones and plug it in, pretend to listen to some song (you can even keep your eyes closed if it's safe). You can then ignore any questions unless he stops the cab/taps your shoulder or something. He would assume the song is too loud for you to hear his voice and since you smiled at him initially, he may not consider you a rude person.

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