274 votes
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How to respond when a Doctor's Receptionist asks the reason for the appointment, after confirming appointment is made?

I have recently had to make a long series of doctors appointments. After the 3rd time someone asked me this I got a bit annoyed too and asked them why they were asking. The receptionist smiled at me ...
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  • 8,540
234 votes
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What is the etiquette for asking a dog owner before I pet their dog?

Always. My dog is a black labrador; an abused rescue I found at a shelter. When I got him (a male), he was limping and terrified. If you touched an ear, he would yelp like you kicked him: somebody had ...
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  • 5,932
195 votes
Accepted

How can I tactfully refuse to switch seats on flights?

"I'm sorry, I selected this seat in advance. But thank you for asking!" Another option is to say, "Thank you for asking! I like this seat just fine." Smile and be polite yet firm. It's been my ...
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  • 32.3k
178 votes

I'm 24 with a 4-year-old son. How to handle uncomfortable questions from people?

Normally, the way to handle overly intrusive and rude questions is by staring a little and then saying Excuse me? Should they happen to repeat the question again, you can then ask Are you ...
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  • 43.5k
176 votes
Accepted

Stopping a relationship with a good friend because It's too overwhelming and new for me

Answer: Try doing the following: Thank him for being your friend. State your problem, tell him that you are not very good at social interactions and are afraid you will offend him eventually. State ...
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  • 7,644
172 votes

How can I effectively tell people that their defensiveness over me bringing up an issue is part of the issue?

Recognise your own biases When someone from a minority group says "that's racist/sexist/homophobic/etc" and the retort from someone from a majority group is, more or less, "no it isn't" This is ...
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  • 1,623
171 votes

How to avoid explaining science to strangers

You need multiple strategies here. First, be more precise about your job. "I work in the space industry" naturally makes people think you're an astronaut or a rocket scientist. "I'm in professional ...
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  • 43.5k
164 votes

How to let people know I don't appreciate being ignored in instant messaging?

No one likes to be ignored, but with digital media, that's unfortunately something you will have to get used to. People often read messages pretty quickly but do not always have the time to ...
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  • 1,289
163 votes
Accepted

How to politely interrupt recruiters who keep cold-calling me during my work hours?

Keep this in mind: recruiters are salespeople. They get paid when positions get filled. They want to pursue potential opportunities and not go after something that won't work. That said, showing ...
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  • 32.3k
161 votes
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How to tell an overweight person that the hike will be too hard?

Make the conversation about experience . . . and baby steps. I'm a regular runner. I compete at a DIII school, and I've been running for . . . maybe eight years now. I've been both the overeager ...
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  • 9,025
157 votes
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How to reject a proposal from a close friend?

How do I explain this to her without her getting hurt/our friendship getting ruined? Okay, that is definitely not going to happen. She is going to get hurt, and your friendship is going to be ...
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  • 1,844
143 votes

How can I tactfully refuse to switch seats on flights?

Unless they make a convincing appeal for why they really need my seat, I say something like "sorry, but I specifically reserved {an aisle seat, a window seat, a seat in the front of the plane, etc}". ...
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125 votes
Accepted

How to tell someone to be quiet immediately while listening to an announcement?

In this context, I prefer Hang on Unlike shh, it clearly conveys a sense of temporariness. Not "don't talk" but "don't talk right now". It's also not something adults say to children (eg teachers, ...
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  • 43.5k
123 votes
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How do I tell a woman that her pants have a menstruation stain?

You say you're sure, but you can't ever really be. It's easy enough to spill or sit on something. And it doesn't even matter: you don't need to tell her what kind of stain it is, just that it's there. ...
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  • 1,492
119 votes
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How do I convince someone formalities between internet friends aren't necessary over a casual, informal text chat?

It sounds like your friend is trying to indirectly ease into the conversation, hoping that you will give them a graceful entry point to their purpose, and it's only after several back-and-forth ...
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  • 3,694
110 votes

How to politely deal with white people wanting to talk to me about racism/race issues

I've been the white person in that situation, and probably more blundering than I want to admit. I have friends who are black, gay, and transgender, and all of them have had to deal with clueless ...
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106 votes

How to deal politely with people asking about your job but unable to understand it?

I'm a mathematician too. I think there are two important things to keep in mind: the first is that asking what someone does is just a polite question. The second is that they are probably very aware ...
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  • 2,239
106 votes
Accepted

Politely telling an incompetent software project volunteer they are too inexperienced

You can side step that issue entirely. You don't even have to be deceitful about it. Simply say to them that the part of the project they can realistically help with is finished now (since it is, ...
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  • 10.7k
106 votes

Asking a coworker to discontinue his chivalrous acts towards me?

The potential romantic angle is a red herring. Whether or not Bob is interested in you and intends these gestures to be his "moves" on you, you don't want the gestures at all because they suggest that ...
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  • 16.3k
105 votes

Offering to share my umbrella without sounding creepy

Generally you shouldn't offer further help. As soon as she wants to go her way you let her do so. You are a random stranger to her, there is every chance she doesn't want to lead you to her home ...
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  • 5,125
103 votes
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Is it rude to ask if a pregnancy was planned?

Bluntly, most people will see it as very rude. Even if it's not your intention, it's as if you were asking if that pregnancy was rather the result of an informed choice following a measured ...
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  • 2,814
101 votes

How to politely notify in an online conversation that I am a woman?

That being said, I'd like to politely inform people who mistake me for a man that I am actually a woman. I don't want it to sound aggressive because I don't really mind and it doesn't change anything ...
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  • 4,375
97 votes

How to let people know I don't appreciate being ignored in instant messaging?

You can't expect people to answer you right away when you send them a written message. They might be busy, they might be too tired to answer, they might haven't taken any decision yet and so one. ...
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  • 17.2k
97 votes
Accepted

Politely ask a female friend to stop lying to me about her relationship

She is trying to justify herself My guess is that she is lying because she tries to give you a picture of herself that, she imagines, will meet your expectations. Try to make clear to her that she is ...
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  • 1,713
94 votes
Accepted

How to politely stress that I do not wish to eat something?

Your in-laws have broken your trust here. It's not so much about the diet itself (they're free to disagree with it, they can even refuse to cook it and let you cook) but this is about them refusing to ...
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  • 7,265
91 votes
Accepted

How to tell a trans couple that their overly romantic behaviour makes you uncomfortable, without coming across transphobic?

On the one hand, the fact that one or both of these people is trans is utterly irrelevant. (I'm going to take you at your word that your objection is to Public Displays of Affection whether with ...
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