Real Simple’s Modern Manners columnist answers a question from Rebekah James of Dallas, Texas.
While the obvious answer is to address the rude Talkers, the trick is how to do it without further inflaming them and upsetting yourself. I once had such an unpleasant run-in with a midmovie Talker, I could barely concentrate on the film even after she finally shut up. So now I’ve developed a three-pronged approach. First, turn to the Talker and, no matter how loud or obnoxious he seems, pretend he’s your grandfather and very politely say, “I’m sure you don’t realize how loudly you’re talking. Would you mind quieting down, please?” This often disarms him and gives him a face-saving way to stop talking while maintaining dignity for you both. If the person does not respond to such a reasonable advance, then turn around and give him the old Shhh! I’ve found that this, while somewhat barbaric, feels good to do and often rallies enough other audience members to join in, creating a group shush effect, which is often enough to shame the Talker into silence. If neither of these measures works, get an usher involved, or ask management for your money back so you can see another show.
Read more of Julie’s advice about etiquette conundrums.