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 ...
user avatar
  • 32.3k
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}". ...
user avatar
110 votes

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

There isn't really a fool proof way to tell a joke from a compliment, unless it's immediately apparent from the tone of voice or context. Are they pointing and laughing? Do they sound snide or ...
user avatar
  • 54.7k
97 votes
Accepted

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

I have been the kid in a situation like this. My father can behave a lot like this girl's mother. It is extremely embarrassing when your parents break social norms. Let's analyse their behaviour. ...
user avatar
  • 8,020
85 votes
Accepted

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

I am Indian. My first name is hard for many Indians to pronounce and my last name, common as it may be in India, has 14 characters! I know I am one in a million when I say this, but you can destroy my ...
user avatar
85 votes
Accepted

How should I tell someone about a potential medical issue?

This is a tricky situation but ultimately can be a matter of life and death. I will recommend you to tell him. Since it is a health related topic. Bottom line is that you can save someone's life. ...
user avatar
82 votes

How do I dismiss a stranger asking for money?

At the bottom, this is someone asking you to do them a favor, and a stranger at that. You can choose to do something, but it is not impolite to not do so. There is nothing wrong with saying, "sorry, ...
user avatar
79 votes

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

I used to work in a cinema where this is a problem. You did the correct thing by getting the attendant and letting them deal with it, that is what they are trained to do. The only thing I would ...
user avatar
73 votes

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

In any theater with assigned seating, it is not your job to remove people from seats they haven't paid for. That is the job of the ushers and other staff, who are paid to check tickets and are (...
user avatar
  • 6,787
72 votes
Accepted

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

This is going to be amazingly hard to pull off, without making people frown a little. You rightfully remark that outright declining to answer the question will be seen as strange: since I'm ...
user avatar
  • 33.8k
70 votes
Accepted

Responding to being told to "smile" by a stranger?

People like that can have no boundaries. They tend to take offense when others respond negatively. Depending on my mood and the vibe I get from people who approach me like that, I'll respond with: &...
user avatar
  • 1,970
64 votes

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

Some people just want to know this trivia, no matter how irrelevant it is for them afterwards. Maybe you'll say a country they've visited and they will follow-up with "I loved city X" or "monument Z" ...
user avatar
59 votes

How to avoid "who are you?" as a response to "how are you?"

You're going to have to find out who they are regardless of how well they know you. You start with something softer. Sorry I've recently got a new phone, who's speaking, please? This basically ...
user avatar
59 votes

How can I tactfully refuse to switch seats on flights?

If I'm dead-set on not moving, I'd say "Thank you for offering, but I'll keep my seat" which implies they were trying to do you a favor and you've (politely) declined, while asserting your claim to ...
user avatar
52 votes

How should I tell someone about a potential medical issue?

I find that leading with a question rather than a statement works better for casual acquaintances. Open with something like "hey, are you aware that that mole above your eye has been growing?". It's ...
user avatar
46 votes
Accepted

How to react to someone pushing me in public transport?

I travel by public transport a lot. So I have also dealt with a fair share of overstuffed trains and buses. And the rudeness people exhibit in these situations. I'm from Northern Europe though. ...
user avatar
  • 33.8k
45 votes

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

You spoiled your own enjoyment and the enjoyment of the other family by creating conflict. The only sure way to keep everyone happy is to simply not engage. That gives you essentially 2 options: Go ...
user avatar
  • 3,290
44 votes
Accepted

How do I dismiss a stranger asking for money?

My go-to reply is: Sorry, no. Have a nice day! [turn and walk away] It's courteous You provide no reason, so they cannot point out flaws in your reasoning You have not given them nothing; a well-...
user avatar
  • 556
42 votes

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

I live in Spain, and have done for the past ten years. Constantly, when talking to people I haven't met before, I get asked where I'm from. It's because of my accent - I've been here long enough that ...
user avatar
  • 1,026
41 votes
Accepted

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

I can empathize with this question, so please don't let the answer lead you to believe I'm insensitive to your plight. For some uninvestigated reason, I cannot tune people out (I have never been able ...
user avatar
41 votes

Responding to being told to "smile" by a stranger?

I am the boundary-challenged gas station attendant in this scenario... at least for many years I WAS that person engaging in the “smile exchange economy.” I offer you my learned perspective and some ...
user avatar
  • 547
39 votes

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

I also think you handled it excellently, but another possibility to remain cautious and helpful is to offer to call help (police, ambulance etc.) yourself: You are offering help. What she described ...
user avatar
39 votes

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

That style of communication is indeed anything but cute in an adult. It communicates that the person in question is either not taking your interaction seriously, or is utterly immature. It might fly ...
user avatar
  • 17.1k
38 votes

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

I used to pick people up at the airport. I did the (maybe hokey) thing of holding a sign. Then when I would meet them, I would straight away tell them I am unsure how to properly pronounce their ...
user avatar
  • 10.1k
38 votes
Accepted

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

Call them right after you send the mail. At the beginning tell them that you sent a mail about the issue, but you want to ask them about it. There is nothing preventing you from calling since you ...
user avatar
38 votes

What is Soda Fountain Etiquette?

The biggest factor is where the other person is standing. If they are standing directly or mostly in front of the machine, then they are effectively claiming exclusive use of the machine. If they ...
user avatar
  • 3,035
37 votes

Responding to being told to "smile" by a stranger?

There's no reason you should smile to him you can tell him that politely, for a humorous response you can use My mom told me not to smile to strangers Or I don't go around smiling to every ...
user avatar
  • 770

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible