Author Topic: Eavesdropping and general nosy-ness...  (Read 6032 times)

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KitchenKitten

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Eavesdropping and general nosy-ness...
« on: November 12, 2013, 07:25:24 PM »
The eavesdropping and nosy-ness is a huge pet-peeve of mine. I don't have many but these, along with over-sharing of personal info (health, financial, etc) are pretty much up in rank with the few others.

I am wondering how others would handle a few examples of the first one(s):

First example: Sometimes I have friends/customers who hang out in my and my husband's retail tobacco shop which has a lounge area and general area where people congregate. When I am hanging out there myself and I reading something, whether in a book, online, or whatnot, and I find something funny and laugh out loud a bit, these friends, sometimes including my husband (with whom I am more patient with) almost always ask what I am laughing at. Not that it is a private thing or something I don't want to share, but I don't want to have to completely stop what I am reading just to explain or go over it, etc. My answers to any of my friends who do this are usually non-descript saying "oh it's part of a story", or "funny article". I have a little more patience with my husband who has somewhat figured out by my answers that he's better off reading it himself. However my friends continue to be a bit nosy. So I have found that telling them I can't explain it all, they'll have to read it.

My problem is their asking in the first place. It really irritates me and I have no idea how to tell them to just stop asking without being rude myself?

This ties into the eavesdropping. Due to the public nature of our shop, phonecalls are far from private. Usually anything requiring REALLY personal info I will wait until I can slip out to someplace without ears. Even so, I still get the same friends who eavesdrop even on a general call. Most recent example: I called my horse's vet to see if they accepted CareCredit. I got a 'No' and got off the phone and kind of mumbled to myself (very low voice) with a 'Shoot, I thought they took CareCredit...:mumble:mumble:...'. I didn't say it to anyone directly, make eye contact, but it prompted one of the 'nosy' friends to ask "Oh what did you need?" I didn't make any indication of speaking to her, or loud enough to even hint at it.

This is not the first time it has happened. Nor just the same person, but one seems to be more this one in particular than any of the others.

If I am running the shop on my own, sometimes phonecalls come in or need to be made that cannot wait.

How do I combat the comments or Spanish Inquisition about every phonecall (in or out)? I know overhearing cannot be helped given the situation but the direct commenting/asking is just rude to me.

mime

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Re: Eavesdropping and general nosy-ness...
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2013, 07:37:25 PM »
For the first situation, maybe something like "This article is funny-- I'll be finished in a minute if you want to read it." That can gently imply that you're not going to tell them the punchline, but they can read it themselves.


TootsNYC

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Re: Eavesdropping and general nosy-ness...
« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2013, 07:51:52 PM »
I think one thing that's going on here is that these people think they are hanging out with you.

If you had invited them over to spend a social evening together, it would be rude to laugh at a private joke and not share it. And it would be rude to make a phone call, especially without explaining something about it so that they didn't feel ignored.

But you don't get to choose whether they come into your store. So you are feeling that they're *not* "spending social time together." You think you're hanging out by yourself at the same place that they are hanging out.

Maybe you need to try to clarify that.
Either with them, or for yourself. If you're hanging out in *your store*, of course your customers are going to think that you are hanging out *with them*, because hospitality is part of what you're selling in your lounge area.


If it's friends and not customer "friends," maybe before you start reading or get absorbed in anything, say, "Well, I'm done visiting now, and I have some stuff to do, so I'm going to send you off."

When they ask "what stuff?" you should say, oh so patiently, "Stuff. And I need to concentrate, so I can't have visitors anymore."


With phone calls, maybe, "Oh, were you listening?" And stop.
When they say yes, then maybe "Oh, it was a private call. I'm sorry--I can't step into another office to take care of business." And again, stop--don't say another syllable.
   If they persist, then say, "Please respect my privacy--I can't exactly go in the other room and shut the door, so I have to ask you to simply ignore things sometimes."

camlan

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Re: Eavesdropping and general nosy-ness...
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2013, 09:13:17 PM »
In the first incident, you laughed out loud. In the second, you spoke out loud after you ended the phone call.

It's possible that those around you thought that the laughter or words were directed at them and that you expected a response. With the phone call, it appeared to me that your friend only spoke to you after you hung up the phone and were still talking. She was reacting to the words you spoke after the call ended, not what you said during the phone call.

I know that sometimes it is difficult to control laughter and sometimes words just come out of our mouths, but I wonder if you could just not laugh or talk out loud, unless you want a response from those around you. The friends that are in the shop might think that you expect them to respond to your laughter or when you speak.

It might take some time to form a new habit, but if the other people in the shop react and respond to every sound you make, this might be the only way to stop them.
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn


sweetonsno

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Re: Eavesdropping and general nosy-ness...
« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2013, 10:34:39 PM »
I'm with camlan. This isn't eavesdropping so much as someone being unsure about who or what you are directing your laughter/comments to. The same thing can happen if you are using a tiny headset with your cell phone. I've sometimes thought someone was talking to me because I couldn't see that they were on the phone.

I would also be surprised if a shop's proprietor was doing pleasure reading or making personal phone calls while customers were present. It seems a lot more informal to take the call/crack up over something, so perhaps they feel that they can be more informal with you as well and "join in" on your conversation.

I do think that the first line of defense is as camlin suggested: try to minimize vocalizing when you aren't actually speaking to someone or expecting a response. If something slips out, I'd just clarify that you weren't addressing them. Treat it as a misunderstanding, not though you think they were listening in, then change the subject. "Sorry about that; I was just talking/laughing to myself. Can I help you find anything?"

m2kbug

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Re: Eavesdropping and general nosy-ness...
« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2013, 10:34:59 PM »
I think when you're laughing out loud and talking to yourself, you're kind of inviting these friends and acquaintances into a conversation or into your personal life.  Don't mumble to yourself would be a good start.  Try not to laugh so loudly.  For an article, just state, "It's a funny article, I'll let you read it when I'm done."  Or "this book is hilarious, I recommend it." 

"I need to take a private call, if you could excuse me please." 

"I'll chat in just a bit, I need to deal with some business matters first."

The thing is, this is your store, not your living room, and with customers, inevitably there will be interruptions.  You're sort of "on" all the time.  To avoid interruptions, read during break in a private area.   

citadelle

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Re: Eavesdropping and general nosy-ness...
« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2013, 10:37:46 PM »
When my husband laughs out loud, he *wants* me to ask what is funny. I have noticed a lot of people do this, laugh out loud to prompt someone to ask so they can share the joke.

I assume your customers think this is what you are doing.

Twik

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Re: Eavesdropping and general nosy-ness...
« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2013, 11:13:01 PM »
I've had it happen the other way.

Got on the elevator. A couple was already on it.

Him: mumblmumble.

Me: (thinking) I don't know him, I guess he's either talking to the other person or he's got a Bluetooth. It would be rude to act as if I can hear his conversation.

Him: mumblemmumbleallrightdontsayanythingwhenisayhello...

Me: Oops! Sorry, hello!
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hannahmollysmom

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Re: Eavesdropping and general nosy-ness...
« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2013, 02:54:22 AM »
As I've mentioned before  ::), I work at an airport. I'm also a smoker. We have designated spots outside where to go.

More often than not,  when I go out on break, there is another employee there who I'm friends with, and we strike up a conversation. Arriving or departing passengers also use the designated smoking area. Nothing aggravates me more, then when a stranger interjects themselves into our conversation.

My other pet peeve is, if I am there by myself, I am often reading my Nook. These same strangers still feel free to talk to me or ask questions while I'm reading. Would you interrupt someone reading in a library? I think not, so why is it ok when someone is reading somewhere else?

Don't get me wrong, I am polite as I acknowledge a greeting, but then go back to reading. I don't feel that by acknowledging a hello opens me up to conversation, but then again...

menley

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Re: Eavesdropping and general nosy-ness...
« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2013, 11:25:59 AM »
When my husband laughs out loud, he *wants* me to ask what is funny. I have noticed a lot of people do this, laugh out loud to prompt someone to ask so they can share the joke.

I assume your customers think this is what you are doing.

I agree with this. Most people that I know that laugh aloud while reading are annoyed when I don't ask them "what's so funny?", and most people who mumble to themselves in public that I have encountered seem put out when I ignore their mumbling entirely and start speaking louder and louder until I recognize that, oh, they must want a response. To be honest, the people that laugh out loud while reading, and the people that talk to themselves in public, drive me crazy. Probably just as crazy as you feel, OP, about them asking about it. I don't think either is wrong necessarily, it's just how we're wired, and because of that I think it would be rude of you to ask them to stop asking you questions.

123sandy

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Re: Eavesdropping and general nosy-ness...
« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2013, 11:53:08 AM »
I think part of the problem may be you seem to see the area as part of your private area (reading, personal phone calls) and your customers see it as a public forum?

ettiquit

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Re: Eavesdropping and general nosy-ness...
« Reply #11 on: November 13, 2013, 11:54:10 AM »
This is similar to a thread I started months ago: http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=124409.0

I think there are people who are just naturally curious, and/or truly don't get that you're just talking to yourself.

MrTango

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Re: Eavesdropping and general nosy-ness...
« Reply #12 on: November 13, 2013, 11:55:28 AM »
As I've mentioned before  ::), I work at an airport. I'm also a smoker. We have designated spots outside where to go.

More often than not,  when I go out on break, there is another employee there who I'm friends with, and we strike up a conversation. Arriving or departing passengers also use the designated smoking area. Nothing aggravates me more, then when a stranger interjects themselves into our conversation.

My other pet peeve is, if I am there by myself, I am often reading my Nook. These same strangers still feel free to talk to me or ask questions while I'm reading. Would you interrupt someone reading in a library? I think not, so why is it ok when someone is reading somewhere else?

Don't get me wrong, I am polite as I acknowledge a greeting, but then go back to reading. I don't feel that by acknowledging a hello opens me up to conversation, but then again...

When I was in college, there were times where I'd sit in a lounge or out on campus reading and not wanting to be interrupted.  I got in the habit of keeping a set of earbuds in my ears.  Sometimes, they weren't even plugged in to anything.

Not that one should have to resort to such measures to be left in peace, but it usually worked.

Bexx27

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Re: Eavesdropping and general nosy-ness...
« Reply #13 on: November 13, 2013, 11:56:30 AM »
When my husband laughs out loud, he *wants* me to ask what is funny. I have noticed a lot of people do this, laugh out loud to prompt someone to ask so they can share the joke.

I assume your customers think this is what you are doing.

I agree with this. Most people that I know that laugh aloud while reading are annoyed when I don't ask them "what's so funny?", and most people who mumble to themselves in public that I have encountered seem put out when I ignore their mumbling entirely and start speaking louder and louder until I recognize that, oh, they must want a response. To be honest, the people that laugh out loud while reading, and the people that talk to themselves in public, drive me crazy. Probably just as crazy as you feel, OP, about them asking about it. I don't think either is wrong necessarily, it's just how we're wired, and because of that I think it would be rude of you to ask them to stop asking you questions.

I agree as well. Laughing and talking are generally social activities. If someone laughs or says something and I am the only other person in the room, I assume they are addressing me. This is not eavesdropping or being nosy; it's being polite and socially responsive. You can avoid being driven crazy by trying not to laugh or speak out loud when you don't want a response, or by saying "sorry, I was just thinking out loud" when someone asks you what's up.
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mspallaton

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Re: Eavesdropping and general nosy-ness...
« Reply #14 on: November 13, 2013, 12:38:58 PM »
Others have addressed this pretty well, but I just want to add that if you're dealing with people you've gotten to know - even a little - it may not be coming from a place of butting in, but of wanting to assist.

Mumbling immediately after finishing a phone call makes you appear as though you're in distress.  It isn't that anyone was listening to the call, but if I hear someone who I know mumble, I will always ask them what's wrong or what's going on.  I think a simple "oh nothing, everything's good - just had a personal thing I was dealing with" response should be enough to get someone to drop the subject.