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Please, Stay Back! How to Handle Awkward Social Situations

  • Category: Coronavirus
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Baton Rouge General
Please, Stay Back! How to Handle Awkward Social Situations

The coronavirus pandemic has brought new levels of stress and uncertainty to everyone’s lives: from worrying about getting sick, to stressing about finances or job security to just being stuck at home. As restrictions begin to loosen and people start getting out and about more, you’ll encounter people with varying ideas of safety and adherence to new precautions. But how do you handle those who may not be on the same page as you are?

The “what to do” and “why to do it” has changed a lot over the past couple of months, and for some, that can be confusing. For example, the CDC first recommended that only sick people and those caring for them wear masks. Then, as it became clearer that people could spread the disease without showing symptoms, the CDC recommended everyone wear masks.

People are more likely to adopt a new behavior when they know better, understand why and see other people like themselves also doing it, but the truth is that old habits die hard. While handshakes, holding the door and small talk in public may feel like a thing of the past, you’ll probably find yourself in a situation where someone is getting too close for comfort.

Here are some tips on how to handle it:

  • Be friendly, pleasant and nonthreatening. Try something like, “I’m sorry. I’m trying to maintain the six-foot distance. Do you mind giving me a little more space, please?”
  • Take advantage of the visual cues many businesses have implemented, like tape or signs on the floor that show customers how to line up at a proper distance.
  • If you’re not as comfortable asserting yourself, try the “borrow authority” method: “Oh, I think we’re supposed to be staying six feet apart, if you wouldn’t mind backing up a little bit.”
  • If there’s no better way, you can be the one to physically move yourself, even if you feel you have the right of way. Safety first!
  • If you’re picking up a to-go order or waiting in line at the pharmacy, it’s ok to ask someone to wear a mask. You can simply say something like “Can you please put a mask on before I come any closer? Thank you!”

We are social creatures, and social distancing comes easier for some people more than others. Try to give others the benefit of the doubt; they may just need a friendly reminder. We all have a lot on our minds right now, and it’s possible they just aren’t paying attention to where they’re standing.