Lets say John and Peter are classmates. Peter eats slowly, and talks a lot while at it. John cannot enjoy the food while talking, so he prefers to finish off all courses and continue conversation after that. John is interested in the conversation.

The location is university's canteen, and they ordered first and second courses. It is quite crowded, but they sit in front of each other at the table.

Peter usually talks about his daily adventures, and sometimes asks semi rhetorical questions. His face expression tells John that he expects an answer, or any other kind of voice feedback. Though Peter uses written communication method for important things, so what Peter says during dinner is just regular conversation.

Peter perceives John as blunt person, but John knows that Peter might get frustrated by direct answer.

The country is Kazakhstan. It is located in Central Asia, to the south from Russia (just in case you don't know where it is, which is usually the case with foreigners).


How can John politely tell Peter to hold on with the conversation before he finishes the food? Will it be better for John to suggest Peter to eat his food too?


2 Answers 2


John cannot enjoy the food while talking, so he prefers to finish off all courses and continue conversation after that.

John obviously enjoys being precise while chewing. So while chewing he can just smile while looking into Peter's eyes to assure him that he is listening to him without uttering a word (or while enjoying his food). The fact that John is indeed listening to him attentively will compensate for the delayed answers. Eye contact would be here a sort of acknowledgement. While having lunch John can give short replies between the bites, as @MorningStar has suggested. So it won't be a loss for John either, as he has not compromised the conversation with his food enjoyment (replying with words only when not chewing).

Note that John will have to maintain this habit for a few days, after which Peter would be aware of John's habit that he doesn't speak much while having food, but he is going to continue the talk after lunch.


I think he can't. Typically, Peters won't react for that well. For them, this type of eating is for them natural.

Thus, in John's view:

John politely asks Peter to let him eat in peace.

In Peter's view:

John "politely" insults Peter because he is unfriendly.

However, what John can do: he can politely minimize his answers:

  • He can give short answers,
  • answers saying nothing,
  • and with a delay.

It limits the problem, but the others the has to tolerate. There is no way out.

  • 2
    Can you expand on why/how your answer works?
    – apaul
    Oct 1, 2017 at 16:08
  • @apaul34208 I think I tried. How about now?
    – Gray Sheep
    Oct 1, 2017 at 17:38

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