How to Avoid Someone Without Being Rude

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Whether it's your nosy neighbor, the guy at work who takes every opportunity to leer at you or the town gossip who is desperate to know what's going on your life, some people just have to be avoided. Don't feel guilty about wanting to run away as soon as you see a certain person coming. If you have a few tricks up your sleeve, you can avoid her in a way that doesn't make you seem rude.

Take a Call

A cell phone can be a lifesaver, if you're comfortable employing some basic acting skills. If you see someone approaching you that you really don't want to talk to, whip out your cell and say, "Hello?" Don't worry about the fact that your cell didn't ring; nobody knows whether it vibrated in your purse or not. On that note, make sure it is actually set to vibrate, or else you could end up red-faced if it rings for real while you're having your imaginary conversation. Give the person a smile, gesture to the phone and walk away, keeping the dialogue up. It's best to keep it simple, or it may not appear genuine.

Get Into the Groove

If you think you're likely to bump into someone you really want to avoid, pop a pair of headphones in your ears, suggests Dave Johnson in the article "4 Ways to Politely Stop People From Distracting You," for It doesn't matter whether you are actually listening to music or not. It's a great way to get past that meddling neighbor without having to stop and engage in conversation. Make sure you walk purposefully and keep your eyes focused straight ahead. Your neighbor will assume you were so engrossed in the music that you simply didn't see or hear him.


As soon as you've made eye contact with someone, it's difficult to avoid her without appearing rude. If you spot someone you don't want to talk to before she notices you, walk in the opposite direction. Focus your attention on something else, such as your friend, a magazine in the store or the contents of your purse. If you're in the mall, go into the nearest store. In the supermarket, head for the farthest away checkout. Infiltrate a crowd of people whenever possible, for example when picking your kids up from school or cheering them on at a sports meet.

Make Your Excuses

Sometimes, it's impossible to avoid being cornered by someone. However, you needn't spend more that a few seconds in his company, if you have an excuse worked out in advance. Be friendly and polite, but make it clear that you really can't stay, writes communication consultant Jodi Glickman on "Harvard Business Review" online. For example, you may say something like, "Hi! Sorry I can't stop to chat, I'm running late for an appointment."