One regularly finds someone to talk to. They can be the person sitting next to us on the plane, someone that we find in a waiting room, a neighbour, or the person standing in front of us in the queue at the supermarket. Sometimes we start long, pleasant conversations, other times we only exchange a few words, a smile, or a complaint about the length of the line or the number of people in the waiting room.
Sometimes we come across people who really want to talk and do not realize that we don’t feel the same. Maybe we’re tired, we’re not feeling well, or we just want to be alone with our thoughts. What do you say in these cases? Above all, what do you say if the person trying to speak to you is a foreigner that does not speak your native tongue? Let’s try to imagine some of the situations in which you can find yourself and give you some phrases that may be useful to you.
On an Airplane
A plane is a place where we can easily exchange a few words with the stranger we have next to us. We cannot choose our travel partners nor can we change them during the entire journey. After landing, when we are all ready to get off the plane, it is good manners to say goodbye and to wish them a good trip. But, what if you do not want to talk after take-off and want to immerse yourself in your reading without any distractions? Let’s try to invent a good excuse.
My ears are ringing, I do not feel well. Excuse me, but I feel very uncomfortable.
Excuse me for a moment. I would like to take a picture of this wonderful panorama!
If you do not mind, I will go back to my reading now. I have some work to complete as soon as possible.
With Your Flatmates
If you share an apartment with other people, we hope that you have found new friends and nice people with whom you can talk about the weekend and the holidays. However, one day you may not feel like talking even with the most pleasant and fun flatmate. In these cases, you could say:
Excuse me, but I am going to my room. I had a bad weekend!
Sorry, guys, but I need to be alone for a bit. I will update you as soon as possible!
At the Doctor
What about in the waiting room at the doctor’s office? You probably do not want to start a conversation, especially if you’re there because of a headache or a toothache. But, this man seems to want to begin a long debate about politics and current affairs. Here is how you can get yourself out of trouble.
I am here for a bad headache. Sorry, but I can’t even talk.
Unfortunately, I am not feeling fine. Forgive me if I am not much of a talker today.
Do you mind if I focus on this for a moment? I have documents to read.
Lunchtime is often used to discuss the news at work and in private life. After all, it is always a good time to have a conversation with our office mates. Sometimes you may prefer to be alone and quiet, especially if your colleagues speak English and you are a little tired. So, the best thing you can do is sit to one side and read a magazine. But, if you cannot avoid finding yourself with company, you could say:
Look, I have had a really bad day. I can’t express myself in English. Sorry!
Sorry, I am going to sit down and put my thoughts in order.
I think that I have not finished my job yet. I’m going to grab a tea and get back to work!
Kindness and Respect
You have the right to ask for a moment of solitude and to not continue the conversation if you do not wish to do so. What is important is to be polite and to not hurt the feelings of the person who is trying to speak to you. Remember the following:
- Do not use the imperative, it may sound impolite!
- Apologize. After all, you ought to give credit to the fact that someone wants to converse with you.
- When possible, mention the reason why you do not want to talk. The other person will understand this and not think that it is a personal slight.
- Smile! A smile is the cure for all ills and makes even the most bitter news bearable.
- Keep a gentle and polite tone of voice.
If you follow these simple rules and express yourself according to the phrases we have prepared for you, you will know how to stop a conversation without hurting the feelings of the other person. Speaking another language is not only a question of knowing the vocabulary and the grammar rules but also is a question of style! For this reason, it is useful to take an English class to not only learn the rules of the language but also the appropriate way to speak while respecting the culture of the person in front of you. The English course at ABA English is based on short films where you can come into contact not only with the language but also with the culture of the different English-speaking countries. This will allow you to learn the language as well as everything that it transmits and the correct way of speaking according to the circumstances. Why don’t you try out the course now?