Wednesday, December 6, 2017

A Novel Approach to Silencing Movie Theater Chatterers

Two young women right behind me in a theater were talking. Continuously. Honestly, I've never heard human beings maintain unbroken speech for such a length of time. It wasn't loud, but it was unceasing.

I shot them a look. The talking continued. I offered a sustained glare. No improvement.

Finally, I wheeled my whole body around, startling them, and gave them my best goofy grin. "Hi there! My name's Jim!!" I piped up, with my happiest happy face. "Hey, are we having a discussion? That's awesome! So what do you guys wanna talk about?" There was no trace of menace; only pure eager affability.

They froze. One managed to croak out an "I'm sorry." And they didn't utter a sound for the remainder of the film.

See also my "Two Strategies For Deflecting Cellphone Loudmouths"

Here's the thing: If I'd asked them - politely or not - to be quiet, I'd have made myself yet another oppositional force to ignore. Instead, I leveraged their deep, primal disinclination to engage with a friendly stranger. Now that's a powerful force!

This is also a great way to discourage strangers from grabbing the seat next to you on a bus or subway. I just smile at them warmly as they approach (ala "Hey, great! It's you!!").

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