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Eavesdropping and general nosy-ness...

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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.

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.

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."

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.

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?"


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