Questions tagged [strangers]

Questions about interacting with people you are not familiar with.

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109
votes
8answers
39k views

How can I tactfully refuse to switch seats on flights?

On flights, seatmates (strangers near my seat) have asked me to swap my aisle seat (reserved in advance, sometimes paid for), usually to my disadvantage as their seat has some snag (dirtier, narrower, ...
94
votes
17answers
23k views

How to handle people blocking your view and breaking the rules at the theater by not sitting in their assigned seats?

A while ago, my parents/brothers and I went to visit a theatre performance (in The Netherlands, where we live). We booked really nice first class tickets with empty seats in front of us. We booked ...
80
votes
13answers
27k views

Responding to being told to “smile” by a stranger?

This seems to be a fairly common scenario. Since I don't work in a public environment anymore, it's been something that hasn't crossed my mind in a long while. However, today while paying for a few ...
63
votes
9answers
24k views

How do I handle strangers who want to “borrow” a cigarette and give nothing in return?

I'm a Spanish 26 year old guy. I have the appearance of what people would call "loser good guy", so when I'm hanging out (mainly at night clubs) it's really frequent people ask out for a cigarette (...
63
votes
9answers
20k views

How to make clear to people I don't want to answer their “Where are you from?” question?

I live in the UK but am not originally from here, having moved in the last decade. Quite often when I talk to people I get asked where I'm from. It usually seems to be in response to my accent, as I'...
60
votes
4answers
10k views

Dismissing a stranger asking for help without being dismissive of their possible situation?

For some background into the layout of where this situation takes place, my apartment complex has it's own dog park. Within a few hundred feet of the dog park is a large and spacious public park, ...
59
votes
5answers
22k views

Which pitfalls should I watch out for when meeting my half-brother who hasn't been aware of my existence for 25 years?

I've been adopted at early age and have no recollection of my biological parents. My adoptive parents have told me at a young age that I was adopted. Because this fact became integrated into my life ...
56
votes
8answers
18k views

How to politely receive someone when you don't know how to pronounce their name?

The situation is a one-on-one meeting with someone I have never met before. I don't know much about that guest, just their profession or connection to our organization, not even if they are from a ...
56
votes
11answers
13k views

Can I correct other people's children in front of them?

I am a childless female 20-something who occasionally comes in to contact with other people's children. This happens anywhere really, at work, stores, museums, movie theatres, just around the ...
54
votes
18answers
35k views

How do I dismiss a stranger asking for money?

I'm not sure if the answers to Appropriate ways to dismiss street vendors? apply to this situation, as it is about people asking for money without a compensation. That's why I'm asking a new question ...
54
votes
8answers
10k views

How should I tell someone about a potential medical issue?

I have a long history of skin issues, including several different types of cancers. As a result, I see a dermatologist very frequently to have potential areas removed. Because of this, I have become ...
43
votes
7answers
13k views

How to avoid “who are you?” as a response to “how are you?”

Last week, I got a phone call from an unknown number, and the conversation went this way: Her : How are you? Me  : Who are you? To put things in context, she turned out to be an old ...
41
votes
3answers
15k views

How do I tell between compliments and 'ball' jokes while juggling?

While training juggling in a park, from behind me I heard a female's voice say, "You are really good with your balls." The vocal inflection was that of a compliment, but she didn't reference juggling ...
39
votes
6answers
17k views

What is Soda Fountain Etiquette?

The other day I was walking with my cup to the Soda Fountain1 at a restaurant. Someone was already using the fountain, but the drink they were getting was on the far right side, while what I wanted ...
37
votes
8answers
13k views

How to react to someone pushing me in public transport? [closed]

Backround Today I was on my way to work on a bus that was really packed. A woman boarded at some point pushing the people already on board and near the entrance (including me) really hard. My ...
29
votes
8answers
7k views

I want to sit down on the bus but someone's bag is in the way, how can I ensure this isn't the case when I lower my posterior onto the seat?

Background I travel on the bus a lot. Twice a day, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year (minus a few weeks holidays) and I love it. It's a great time to unwind, to people watch, to lose yourself in thought ...
26
votes
4answers
5k views

How many photos should I take If I'm given a camera to take a picture?

I live in a fairly touristic place and get asked to take pictures of strangers a lot. When I do this, I get a little bit self-conscious thinking if they are saying to themselves "this dude is taking ...
24
votes
5answers
8k views

How to deal with a person that does something wrong like littering or hitting a dog and yells at you when you tell them that they did something wrong?

In my life I come across people that do things that are wrong (and most of the times illegal) like littering, hitting animals, parking on the pavement without leaving an inch for pedestrians to pass. ...
23
votes
8answers
18k views

How do I politely tell a stranger to stop making annoying noises I can't name?

Background I've encountered this problem several times and under different circumstances. It really annoys me when people constantly make noises with their mouth. Now, I can't name them and they come ...
23
votes
4answers
3k views

A stranger keeps calling and is confused that my phone number is his friend's old phone number

A man called me a few times today- I'll refer to him as "Bill". He was looking for a man named Wayne. He is pretty upset that Wayne's old number happens to now be my number. He explained that he has ...
22
votes
6answers
17k views

How can I tell someone I don't like the way they speak?

I can't stand "cutesy voice". That is, people who put on a high pitched squeal when they talk, who choose to say things like "wuv" over "love" or say things that are dark in a cute way. It's made ...
22
votes
2answers
5k views

Offering free food to random people as a kind gesture, without being condescending or strange

I recently watched a YouTube video of a person who was handing out free food to random people - donuts, iced coffees, etc. - and so, inspired by this, I bought an ice cream bar last night for a ...
20
votes
9answers
5k views

Is there a general rule for when/how to compliment a stranger? [closed]

The title pretty much says it all, I know there are cases where giving compliments to strangers makes them uncomfortable (for example, catcalling), but as I understand it there is a separate set of ...
19
votes
7answers
7k views

How can I respond to well-meaning comments at the gym?

I go to the gym twice a week. I like the people there, I love what I do, my trainer is great. The only issue I have, is that, well, I'm fat. I'm tall and fat, and people constantly assume that no ...
19
votes
2answers
4k views

Is it OK to engage in strangers' conversation during a break in a lecture?

I was recently on an public meeting with 2 famous journalists. As it's usual, firstly there was an organized discussion lead by the host, after which there was a space for questions from the audience. ...
19
votes
3answers
2k views

Negative feedbacks and “Language smoother”

I don't know what is the "scientific" term for that but I noticed that, when people give negative feedback, they sometimes use "tricks" to make their words less harsh. For example, they will use ...
17
votes
8answers
7k views

How to recover from being falsely seen as a racist?

So here is the story: It was a Saturday night and my wife and I were sitting outside, drinking. We've already had a few drinks and we were talking, listening to music, in a good mood if you will. I ...
17
votes
5answers
7k views

I sent an email about an urgent message, but want to call instead. How to correct?

Note: this is not a situation I am currently facing, but I have faced in the recent past. I apologized afterwards, which helped, but I'd rather learn how to fix the problem before it even occurs. My ...
16
votes
6answers
5k views

How can I ask reading people in public transport for the title of their book? [closed]

I travel with public transportation quite a bit, and I read a lot while commuting too. While I don't mind being asked what book I'm reading, other people might. I'm always on the lookout for new ...
15
votes
1answer
1k views

Non-disabled people parking on handicap spots

This morning, when I went to the local bakery, a woman (maybe around 25 years old) parking on the handicap spot right in front of the store. To me, she didn't look disabled at all. Granted, not every ...
15
votes
4answers
3k views

How to react when a complete stranger bursts out crying in front of you?

I was at Victoria coach station in London a few months back and a woman out of nowhere started crying in front of me. She had just got off of the phone and was visibly shaken up, she just kind of sat ...
15
votes
6answers
21k views

How to convey (non-awkwardly) that its my birthday? [duplicate]

First off, I know that this question is very close to mine, but has no answer that would match my needs. Secondly, I find it shocking how many people answer for a workplace situation. This question ...
15
votes
2answers
2k views

What to do if I find a woman already waiting for an elevator?

When I try to get on an elevator, sometimes a woman is already waiting for the elevator. There is no other person around there. Then, after the woman recognizes I'm also going to get on, she suddenly ...
15
votes
1answer
1k views

How to tell a user at the gym that it's not OK to use one machine and “reserve” another one?

The following situation has happened to me several times: A user in the gym is using some machine or equipment (a bench, a row machine, a bar, etc.). When I'm going to use another machine or ...
15
votes
2answers
505 views

How can I offer to take care of the dog of a stranger when he/she is not home?

I live in an apartment building and I can often hear a dog whining in the apartment above mine, presumably because the owner is not home. The noise is only a slight bother, I more so feel bad for the ...
14
votes
9answers
6k views

Is it rude to ask how much a new neighbour paid for their apartment? [closed]

TLDR; Is it rude to ask how much a new neighbour paid for their apartment? My view is that it isn't, because it's information that's probably their favourite topic of conversation right now, and also ...
14
votes
4answers
7k views

How to turn down unsolicited advice at the gym? [duplicate]

I'm going to the gym quite frequently, so does the guy this question revolves around. I don't really like chit-chatting (or talking in general) while im working out - I'm usually in my zone, with ...
14
votes
3answers
8k views

How could I ask a stranger to take a photo of me while traveling?

I always travel alone, so it is not possible to take a photo of myself except selfies. Some of my friends also travel alone, yet they frequently upload non-selfie photos of themselves on SNS. I asked ...
14
votes
3answers
1k views

Gently turning down undesired physical contact/setting boundaries in a nightclub environment

In many ways this question mirrors Asking a girl whether she would like to dance with me The setting: I am alone in a nightclub. I am located in a city/region known for being culturally progressive ...
13
votes
6answers
3k views

Telling people that feeding bread to ducks is harmful

Many people like to go and feed the ducks at the ponds and lakes near where I live. It's lovely that they want to interact with and appreciate these wild animals. Unfortunately, they nearly always ...
13
votes
3answers
2k views

On what to compliment someone with anorexia in order to improve their body image?

I'm in an online support group for people with anxiety, depression and these kinds of things (I already talked about it in this question). The other day, someone with anorexia (her words) posted a ...
13
votes
2answers
868 views

How can I wait in line for the bathroom without crowding people as they exit?

When I'm in a public establishment and there's a wait for the bathroom, I prefer not to stand too close to the door, because then I'm right in the face of the person exiting. In particular, I think ...
12
votes
6answers
2k views

How to tell a stranger that the way I wish to educate my child is none of his/her business?

Consider the following scenario: I'm taking my kid (5 years old) to a coffeeshop and we do some 'math problems'. By math problems I mean that I explain him about the numbers, addition, counting and so ...
12
votes
1answer
2k views

How could I have better handled telling this minority woman I liked her cultural hairstyle?

Background This happened in Netherlands. I have some mixed ancestry. I mostly look like a Dutch person, except for my curly bush of hair and my olive skin. In school I got bullied a lot because of my ...
12
votes
2answers
3k views

Happy Juneteenth?

I recently learned about Juneteenth. For anyone not familiar: Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. From its Galveston, Texas ...
12
votes
2answers
2k views

How can one handle an encounter with a beggar/homeless person? [closed]

I used to work in Downtown Orlando, which is notorious for its amount of people walking the streets no matter if it's day or night. I worked Downtown for about six months, and I started to notice the ...
11
votes
3answers
1k views

How to prompt a stranger for a dance while out with my dancing companion?

Recently I started taking dancing lessons with my dancing partner. We enjoy it and also go out together in clubs or bars with a dance floor for practicing what we learned or just for fun. My partner ...
11
votes
2answers
4k views

How to politely ask for a price for a commision, when I only intend to ask?

I wanted to ask for a price for a commission from an artist. However, my budget is lower than what I think the commission would be worth, hence I intend to only ask for the price and not buy the ...
11
votes
2answers
2k views

How can I ask someone in a quiet library to stop clearing their throat?

I have ADHD and as such have terrible difficulty maintaining my concentration, especially when working on homework. Because of this, I often like to work on the "quiet floor" of my university's ...
11
votes
1answer
719 views

How to help a stranger (woman) in an abusive relationship?

I'm in an online support group for people with anxiety, depression and these kinds of things and, in this group, people would often post things about the difficult situation they are in. Recently, a ...