Deciding whether or not to comment on someone’s behavior in a public space has always been difficult. Many people get annoyed if someone cuts the line to get to the front or doesn’t pick up after their dog, but feel uneasy calling out those who engage in these actions.
The novel coronavirus pandemic has brought new physical distancing and personal hygiene rules with it, and dealing with rule-breakers has become even more complex. You may be torn between not wanting to confront people about their behavior and the desire to protect yourself and stay safe. We hope these 6 tips will help you the next time you face a sticky situation with a social distancing rule-breaker.
Sometimes the most obvious solution to a problem is the one we have a hard time seeing or rather implementing. If someone is breaking social distancing rules around you, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask them to follow the guidelines and explain why you are having this conversation with them.
“Back up your reasoning with facts,” says Jennifer Tomko, a psychotherapist at Clarity Health Solutions. “Sometimes education can help change someone’s mind.” Of course, this approach may not always work, but it’s definitely worth a try before you decide to remove yourself from a certain situation or distance yourself from an acquaintance.
One thing that’s important to remember is that if you do choose to use your words, shame and blame don’t work as well as empathy and benefit of the doubt. While it is true that some people have decided to not wear masks to make a statement, that is far from being the case for every person you see without face protection or who is standing too close to you. It is possible that social distancing just isn’t natural for them, and they simply forget to follow the rules.
“The best advice when dealing with social distance rule breakers is to assume (or at least pretend) the infraction is innocent and not malicious and to use a tone that’s nonjudgmental and value-neutral,” says Nick Leighton, etiquette expert, to Reader’s Digest. Using a kind and polite tone of voice, rather than a harsh one could go a long way.