General Etiquette > general

Overhearing a conversation

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If you are in a public place, and overhear someone saying that they're looking for something but can't find it, is it rude or polite to tell them where it is?
Today I was in the grocery store, and an older gentleman was commenting to his son that he wanted to get some sauerkraut.  He started looking for it, but was looking in the wrong places. I could tell, because I happened to be standing in front of the sauerkraut, which was on the lowest shelf, and not too easy to see. I know that it is normally polite to pretend as if you cannot hear the conversations of others in the aisle...but what about a situation like that, or one in which a person is looking at a map but saying they can't find a particular location? Is it impolite to offer the information they need?

I don't think it's rude.  I've done it for others, and also appreciated it when someone helps me out by saying "Excuse me, the sauerkraut is here on the bottom shelf".

I think this has come up in another thread, and there the general consensus was that if you're telling them something fact-based, it's not rude. If you're offering personal advice on what they should/shouldn't do (beyond product or service information), then it can come across as rude or nosy.

Nothing rude about that at all.

In the situation you described, I might add a "sorry, I'm blocking it." In the map situation, I might ask them if they need help.

I do it, I consider it being a good neighbor. Someone who gets offended by you overhearing them say "were are the Ritz Crackers" is going to be offended by anything you say or do.


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