Some people – called extraverts – are sociable enough to draw anyone into a conversation. Starting a talk with any stranger anywhere, or making friends while standing in a line might be just ok for many of us. But such attempts from a talkative stranger can be a real nightmare for an introvert who often wants to be left alone.
Some think that the difference in energy sources between an extravert and an introvert is as follows. To recharge, the former needs to go out to people and communicate, while the latter needs to stay alone and approach his inner battery. Anyway, the question is how an introvert can behave – remaining polite – when dealing with numerous traveling extraverts.
How can I civilly ask a chatterer seating next to me (on board of a plane/train/etc.) for some quietness and repose?
There is nothing wrong in asking for that directly, for example, by saying: “Excuse me, but I really need some quiet time. My following week will be very busy.” Your tone and manner can be perfectly polite and friendly as you pronounce: “I really enjoyed talking to you, but I want this flight/ride/trip to give me some rest and recharging. I will have to put my earphones on and close my eyes.” Using earphones usually makes for a clear sign that you are “away” and physically can’t participate in a conversation anymore. However, if you are seated near the aisle, it will sound more correct if you add: “Please don’t be shy to wake me up when you want to walk past”.
What shall I do if this fails?
If your neighbor hasn’t get it right, you may try something like: “I want to read a magazine now, so I won’t be available.” Another variation is: “I have been dreaming to read this book, so please excuse me for being silent and not holding our conversation. I don’t want to offend you. Reading is very important for me now.” There shouldn’t be any feeling of guilt when we ask for some privacy.
What if the story takes place at a hotel shared table during a mealtime?
First of all, you may just try having your meal in a different place. Check if it is possible to have your food as a take-away. You might need to address this request to the host, in a polite manner: “This place is very comfortable and I like it here. But I absolutely need some quiet time. So may I have breakfast in my room?” You can also verify if there is some time during the meal hours when the dining room is almost empty. There can be several options depending on the situation, and you can choose whichever fits better. Just remember it is normal to ask, and hosts are used to meeting people with different communication preferences.
Anything else to keep in mind?
When asking for your space and quiet time bear in mind there are people who may take it personally and get hurt, even if you are as polite and gentle as is humanly possible. If this is the case, remember you tried your best and this is not your fault. After all, entertaining them is not your responsibility.