When The Hand Stops Listening…

That 80’s and 90’s thing:  ” Talk to the hand… “. Was it clever or rude? Was it just a catch-phrase used by a comedienne to make herself sound clever? Was there a need for it and is there a need for it now?

Well, let’s dispose of the question of an act like this in regard to manners and etiquette straight away. It is rude. It’s unpleasant and not the sort of behaviour in which a lady or gentleman within society would participate. But then society makes up only a portion of the population – outside of the polite enclosure, behaviour has more room to move, so to speak.

How do you stop intrusion? How do you stop nagging? How do you stop impertinent enquiry? Assuming that you haven’t been wise enough to avoid putting yourself into a position to be subjected to these annoyances…and that is an entirely different essay…you still want some way of escaping. You’ll also want to be able to avoid even more unpleasant behaviour in the social setting, but may be at a loss as to how to go about it. Here are a few suggestions:

a. In the wider world, keep your ears open. You’ll frequently be able to hear low troublemakers on the street long before you see them – they cannot stop themselves from shouting and making animal noises. Steer yourself away from the sound.

b. In a closed venue, watch to see who is making a disturbance or taking up far more space than normal. They’re trouble and it is best to let the staff deal with them. You’ll be far better away than just hoping for the best.

c. If someone singles you out for unwanted attention and will not accept a polite rebuff, walk to the nearest authority, quite openly, and ask for protection. If caught away from any help, yell or scream continuously for assistance. If you need to do this in a drawing-room or a shop, do so. The nature of the event will excuse any disturbance.

d. If someone persists in unwanted behaviour on social media drop their acquaintance. On Facebook you can do so by ” snoozing ” them for 30 days, unfollowing them, or unfriending them. The Facebook organisation will accept your decision and support you in it. Beware that if you then meet in person, the other individual may ask why you have not contacted them…have an answer ready.

e. If someone rebuffs you or drops your acquaintance, accept it with good grace. You need not pursue further contact. The inevitable chance meeting later on the street, or at a relative or mutual friend’s house alluded to in (d.) will be all the more interesting. Be gracious.

f. If all you need is time to think, recover, or relax in the face of distress or importunity, request it. Good manners and good sense demand that it be rendered. If it is not, then you are perfectly free to drop the acquaintance and walk away from further contact.

No-one wants to be isolated, and no-one should try to isolate others. Equally, no-one need endure unpleasant conduct or be associated with foolish or criminal activity. When in any doubt err on the side of caution and kindness, but remember that you have a right to be left alone.


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