Guru Tips

You booked a redeye so you can get some zzz’s before you arrive at your destination. Perhaps you’ve rented a movie and only have the plane ride to enjoy it. Maybe you finally get a few hours alone to read that bestselling book you’ve been wanting to crack open. Then again, maybe you are one of three Americans who are introverted and you simply want to avoid socializing with strangers on airplanes. Whatever the reason, the fact is you paid for your seat and you have the right to your personal space. Now, what can you do about that person sitting next to you who is a Chatty Cathy, while keeping things peaceful until your arrival?

Play Dead

OK, so maybe not quite dead, but you could pretend to be asleep. However, a little shutting of the eyes might not work for every talkative person, especially if you have been caught by their chitchat before you have a chance to sit down. If you do want to go this route, here’s how to manage it. Slip on an eye mask or, better yet, one of those obtrusive Ostrich Pillow devices that completely encapsulate your head. Tuck in and send out a few faux snores for best results. Hopefully, the passenger will follow your lead and fall asleep themselves giving you the opportunity to have peace and almighty quiet--until that baby two rows back starts crying.

Speak Gibberish

Gibberish might be a far cry when what you really need is a few phrases in a foreign language. Choose a language you can easily imitate and learn some key phrases, such as “I don’t speak English” or “Sorry, no.” Better yet, if you are going somewhere exotic for your destination, take this time to practice some language skills on the plane. Pretend you are a native speaker and stick to the script whenever you are spoken to. This includes whenever your loquacious seatmate tries to talk to you, or when the flight attendant asks if you want something to drink. Have fun with it. 

Mitigate Your Irritation 

Let’s say you are already on an airplane and reading this article because, lo and behold, you are stuck seated next to someone who simply will not be quiet. It’s too late to order an Ostrich Pillow and you have no time to learn the basics of another language. Are you in a tight spot, or what? Well, there is the good old-fashioned way of communication. Be bold, be brave. Do what your parents would have done long before social media and smartphones caused us to forget how to do face-to-face interaction.

Tell the person to be quiet.

But this isn’t peaceful or polite, you say, and it could lead to anxiety and nerves for the rest of the flight. Most likely it won’t. All you have to do is tell the person the following: “Excuse me, I’m going to try to catch up on some [insert solo activity here] now.” And then do your thing. It is your right, and your responsibility, to be assertive in such a situation. After all, the other person is certainly asserting their own voice into your space.

Ultimately, you do not have to lend an ear to someone just because they are your seatmate. Hopefully, these methods will give you an easy out the next time your airplane neighbor starts to tell you their life story on an 18-hour flight.

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