Conservative Chatter: Bowing out of a lengthy conversation

by epi on December 17, 2012

Q: At the doctor’s office, a stranger tries to strike up a conversation with you. You’re not in the mood to talk. Do you tell her so?

A: There’s no harm in indulging someone with a short conversation. But if you’re incapable because of nerves or illness, a polite deflection is what’s called for: “It’s been nice chatting with you. I need some quiet time to prepare for this appointment. Thanks for understanding.”

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Vanna Keiler December 17, 2012 at 2:14 pm

I don’t think you need to indulge anyone in a doctor’s office if you don’t want to. It’s a doctor’s office, and is a fairly confidential environment to begin with (like standing in line at a bank, accountant’s office, etc). People pick up on visual cues and if someone keeps talking to you (highly unlikely unless related to mental health facility) and you want to end the banter, you can simply turn your head away and close your eyes, pick up a magazine, check your cell phone for messages, look in your wallet/purse, etc. You can nod and smile before turning away if that makes you feel better. This is one venue where the issue of conversation and etiquette is exempt: we are there to get well, not to practice social graces. Same should apply to a hospital.

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Heather December 17, 2012 at 6:18 pm

I would probably excuse myself (“I’m going to visit the restroom”) and when I returned to the waiting room, sit somewhere else.

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