Etiquette Questions, Answered: Tricky Conversations
How Do I Politely Tell Strangers That They Are Invading My Personal Space?
Q: Often when I’m at the ATM, people waiting in line crowd in close behind me. How do I politely tell them that they are invading
my space and need to step away?
Spearfish, South Dakota
I can see why you’re skittish. You’re keying in your PIN and perusing personal financial information while someone is hovering in your personal space.
My suggestion: Tense up and jump a little, as if someone snuck up on you, and shoot a startled look over your shoulder. Make eye contact, smile apologetically, and say, “Oh, hi. I didn’t realize someone was standing so close to me.” Chances are the person will back off—literally.
If your dark circles aren’t quite this adorable, you don’t have to grin and bear it. Try these (en)lightening strategies to minimize them.