How patient are you with strangers who want to talk when you don't?

Inspired by an incident with just such a person. It also reminded me of some indie comic book in which the main character gets a negative reaction in such a situation (he’s the one talking to someone else), and gets snippy, along the lines of “well, excuse me for trying to engage in basic human social interaction!” (I don’t remember how, but basically “shaming” the other party for being rude and antisocial for not wanting to listen to him; I wouldn’t be surprised if this was meant to be hypocritical and/or ironic).

How do you deal? How open are you to engaging with complete strangers, assuming you’re in a setting and mood where you don’t particularly want to engage?

Not at all patient.

If I can plausibly ignore them, I do; if I can’t, I keep answers short and to the point. I don’t smile or otherwise encourage them.

I’m just not very social. Sometimes I even avoid shopping, because I don’t want to have to answer a “How are yooouuuu?” or a “Finding everything okay?” from a store greeter.

I haven’t been to my dentist in ten years, eat only three-day-old sushi with rotten garlic clove, and don’t bathe. Try it out.

Very, very patient.

Please carry on.

I happily put up with them even if they are mentally challenged in some way. I figure that when I am raving to people and they don’t give a shit they generally act politely , so I do the same.

It just depends how they strike me. I am open to a good conversation most of the time. If they are boring me I find a way to move or sometime rudely ignore them if they don’t get the hint.

I try to be patient, if not particularly engaged, just murmur “Oh?” occasionally and let them talk.

Depends on the situation, but typically I’m barely patient.

I don’t like it when I go shopping, and a salesperson comes up and initiates conversation. I generally give a polite but very brief “I’m just looking” type of comment, which should indicate that I don’t WANT the salesperson there. Sometimes they don’t get the hint - after the third attempt, I start to get ruder.

Most of the time I have something to do or somewhere to go, so I’m not going to allow myself to engage in a long conversation. If it looks like that is where the encounter is headed I have no problem breaking it off with, “I’m sorry, but I have to [fill in the blank]. It was so nice to run into you.”

My wife, on the other hand can get into an hour long conversation in the produce section of the supermarket and then later complain about how it kept her from doing something she really wanted to do. I simply don’t understand the inability to break off a conversation. We’re all busy. Just be polite about it.

However, if I were sitting on a park bench with nowhere to go, I’d happily engage a stranger who sat beside me. As others have said, it depends on the circumstances.

Ditto. I grew up in the South and people are open and chatty, so riding the bus or train I’ll happily stop reading to help someone pass the time chatting. However, decades of living in Chicago means most conversations with strangers start with some sort of ulterior motive (cons, panhandling, offers of a blowjob so they can buy crack) and I’m told I don’t look initially welcoming; friends have said they were surprised to find I was open and funny when we first met because my default expression is stern.

What I’ve noticed is that I don’t start chatting with people - when family visit and I’m taking them around town, they’ll happily ask strangers anything they’re curious about or have a comment on, and rarely let someone pass without at least a standard “Hey, nice day, isn’t it?”

I’m usually fine with it as long as they’re not J-dubs or a Directv salesperson type.

I would never really initiate it but I LOVE when strangers talk to me, as long as it’s nothing weird or personal. I enjoy small talk at the cashier line at the store. I can chat with other parents at the playground as long as they want to chat. As long as I’m not in a hurry I’ll be the first to talk to the old guy confused about what kind of cat litter is best for his Mable. I love people and I always try to make time for them.

This usually happens on flights. I try to give out the politely not interested vibe, if that doesn’t work I just put on my headphones and read a book.

I have a multilevel marketing opportunity I’d love to tell you about.

I’m not very sociable: when out and about, I’m happy with my own company – and with what I have with me to read or to write. My heart tends to sink when I’m approached by a stranger who wants to talk: at best, I’d rather be doing my own thing – and in most instances in my experience, these folk who “buttonhole” strangers, want to spout stuff which is inane / weird / of absolutely zero interest to me; and are either very focused on themselves and their own stuff; or inappropriately inquisitive.

I usually respond minimally, in a way which I hope will indicate total lack of interest, and hope that they will get the desired hint therefrom; and extricate myself as soon as possible in practical terms. When in a particularly non-sociable mood, I have occasionally lost all patience and (without crossing over the line into bad language) essentially told them to go away and leave me alone. A couple of times, this has turned ugly – thankfully stopping short of physical violence.

At times I wonder whether this is a character flaw in me – perhaps the indie-comic guy in the OP actually had the right idea, and I should be more patient and charitable toward “buttonholers”. Doing so, would be a hard act for me to carry out.

As long as the person’s not creepy and is talking about something relevant to whatever situation we’re in, I’ll respond politely, but will usually find some way to excuse myself. Any compliments are returned with a nod and a smile assuming it’s real and not a wolf whistle or whatever.

Agreement. I like people. Everybody has a story to tell, and many of them are actually pretty interesting. Even the boring ones are valuable.

Yes, sometimes it goes beyond boring, into crazy, or scary, or just too unintelligible to be worth trying to follow. I’m always sad when this happens, and I really do try, longer than perhaps most people would, before I go away.

Sometimes, I learn something, or hear a good joke, or just share a brief moment of time with a total stranger, and the world seems a bit more friendly.

I don’t have a lot of patience for strangers talking to me, but my politely not interested vibe works pretty well; it isn’t a problem for me. Someone who persists in talking to me when I have given them no encouragement - not much patience for that. I’ll find a way to extricate myself fairly quickly if possible. I don’t think I’ve ever had to get rude about it; just be non-responsive and leave if necessary. If I couldn’t leave - well, I’d probably put up with it until I could.

I generally just go along with it. I might keep my answers towards the curt side if I’m not in the mood, but I’ve never had a stranger snap at me for not being chatty. I don’t mind small talk or random conversations. I actually enjoy conversations on flights with strangers, but I rarely have strangers initiate them, and I generally won’t initiate it in that sort of circumstance just in case the other person isn’t into it. I’m generally not one to start up conversations with strangers, but I enjoy it when a stranger starts up a conversation with me.

I’m British and live in the UK, so strangers rarely talk to me and I rarely talk to them, unless there’s some particular reason (e.g. I’m at work or someone dropped something). The point is, there’s an obvious purpose to the conversation. If there’s no obvious purpose and someone is just being friendly or talkative, I’m not exactly impatient. More like “Shit! Someone’s talking to me? Why the fuck are they doing that?! What are they saying? Fuck I can barely understand them… OK I think I got all that. Now I have to reply… but all my brainpower went on trying to hear the words they were saying, there’s nothing left to think of a response… think think think! Oh good they got bored and gave up.”

I suppose the moral of the story is just observe me for a while and you’ll know how to get rid of random strangers pretty quickly.