And now, a little self-help from the self-anointed guru...
We’ve all encountered them…the overzealous cashier, the painfully upbeat guy sitting next to you in class, the friendly girl in the next cubicle. What I like to call “agreeable people.” Those people who are never content to leave well enough alone and let a person revel in their own solitude. Those people who feel it is their duty to strike up a conversation with total strangers. Those people who find silences awkward. Whether you’re out running errands or going about your daily business, you are never safe from them.
Luckily, I’ve developed a proven system to help you avoid being trapped by an agreeable. The key…cultivate your air of inapproachability.
Now, I can already hear your self-righteous objections. “How can you be so mean and hateful?” ”This sounds like rudeness to me!” “They’re just trying to be friendly!”
I strongly disagree with the first two objections and I’ll tell you why. My system is all about protecting myself from uncomfortable situations and does not involve being rude or mean. In fact, I make a point of avoiding any appearance of rudeness or animosity…such attributes would only draw more attention to me, which would defeat the whole purpose. That being said, I do recognize that the agreeables are just trying to be friendly (in their own twisted way). Thus, I hold no ill will towards them…but the whole point of this exercise is self-preservation. It’s not that I just don’t like talking to strangers or casual acquaintances; it makes me very uncomfortable and nervous and hence decreases my quality of life.
So, now that I’ve explained the necessity of this system beyond a reasonable doubt…I present it to you now in all its magnificent simplicity.
Step 1: Simple questions require only simple answers. When you can answer with a yes or no, do it. Avoid elaboration, as it only opens the door for further intrusion.
Step 2: Never initiate. This one’s pretty obvious and easy…I mean, why would you want to start a conversation yourself? Kind of defeats the purpose of all this.
Step 3: Be aware of your environment. As is often the case in life, avoidance is sometimes the best policy. Recognize the recurring agreeables in your daily life and do whatever is necessary to avoid them. For example, there is one cashier at the local grocery store that is ridiculously chatty. If you go through her checkout line you are guaranteed to get at least one if not more awkward questions or comments (something like, “I see you’re buying some aspirin…have you tried the new foot cream on aisle 4? It does wonders for my bunions”). Thus, the simple solution is…never go through her line. I don’t care if there is no one in her line (which is often the case…apparently a lot of people use this strategy whether they realize it or not)…get in line behind 12 other people if necessary. Trust me, it is more than worth it.
Step 4: Never draw attention to yourself in any way. This one is very important in cultivating your air of inapproachability and requires a great deal of attention. It applies mainly to people that you have to be around on a regular basis (e.g., classmates and co-workers). The less people know about you, the more mysterious you become and the more hesitant they are to try to draw you out.
Well, there it is…it’s as simple as that. Four simple steps and your problem with agreeables will be a thing of the past. I hope you enjoy your quiet solitude.
(Would it come as a great surprise to you that I met my wife online??)