4 Polite Ways to Get People to Pipe Down

We've all been there, sitting harmlessly in Starbucks, the library, or even in our living rooms, studying for a test, when a brazenly loud person gets on the old cell phone and begins an intrusive conversation, or some kid starts laughing loudly with someone else at the table next to you in the library. What do you do? Here are four polite ways to get people to pipe down when you're trying to focus in a public place.

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Lead By Example

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A subtle way of asking someone to pipe down is by accepting a phone call, and announcing that you'd better "move outside/to another area so you don't disturb everyone." Try to catch the talker's eye briefly, in a non-threatening way when you say this. Then, actually move to that more secluded spot.

Or, if someone tries to engage you in conversation loudly, suggest that you "move to another spot so you don't bother everyone else around you." Perhaps this will be enough of a hint to quiet the noise.

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Sometimes, a smile can disarm a loud talker quickly, politely, and effectively. Often, people have no idea they are being so boisterous, so catching their eye and smiling in their direction can alert them that you can hear them, and if perhaps you can hear them, then everyone in the room can hear them. Maybe, they'll adjust their volume. Plus, since a smile is so non-aggressive, the person may sheepishly smile back.

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Use Bribery

Studying in a coffee shop
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Sometimes, subtlety won't get you very far, especially if the talker is engrossed in a conversation. So, why not spend the best few bucks of your day (that sweet multiple-choice test notwithstanding), and order him a coffee/lemonade/refill on the sly. When the order comes up, ask the barista if she wouldn't mind delivering it for you, with your compliments and a request: pipe down a bit. When the talker looks in your direction and smiles (rolls their eyes, whatever), offer a toast with your beverage and consider your location a little less noisy. Most people will be shocked into silence by your audacity and kindness. 

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Outsmart Them

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It really never turns out well to approach someone and just flat-out ask him or her to be quiet. Never. But that doesn't mean you have to listen to their never-ending prattle. You can say something to the loud person, as long as you say these next words, and these next words only. With an apologetic tone of voice and humble body language, say, "You might get mad at me for saying this, but I'm really having trouble focusing on my work." Then smile your most pathetic, endearing smile.

 Psychologically, this is a good approach! By giving the owner permission to get "mad at you" and thus, putting yourself in a very vulnerable position (the person about to be the recipient of anger), you immediately cause a normal, rational person to try to rectify an initial angry response because no one wants to intentionally kick someone who's down. By putting yourself in that position, you gain the advantage by getting them to quiet down in a peaceful, non-threatening way.

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If Nothing Works...

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Sometimes, people are just going to be loud. Parents show up with kids, who love to have a good time. A tutor gives his or her students a rather loud demonstration in Physics. A group joins together to chat about their day. If you're having trouble concentrating, then pop in the earbuds, listen to a white noise app, and zone in. If that isn't working, then you're better off moving to another study spot!

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Your Citation
Roell, Kelly. "4 Polite Ways to Get People to Pipe Down." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, thoughtco.com/polite-ways-to-get-people-to-pipe-down-3212075. Roell, Kelly. (2023, April 5). 4 Polite Ways to Get People to Pipe Down. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/polite-ways-to-get-people-to-pipe-down-3212075 Roell, Kelly. "4 Polite Ways to Get People to Pipe Down." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/polite-ways-to-get-people-to-pipe-down-3212075 (accessed June 10, 2023).