How to Avoid Someone Without Being Rude

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Positive energy is a “precious commodity,” says psychologist Sherrie Bourg Carter, Psy.D. in a March 2012 article in “Psychology Today.” If you don’t want to hand over yours to someone who is negative or simply uninteresting to you, you don’t have to. Whether you choose to be direct or a bit tricky, you can easily dodge the people who rub you the wrong way.

Rearrange Your Schedule

It’s difficult to avoid someone if you hang out in the same places or pass one another frequently during the day. If you’re trying to dodge that annoying coworker at the end of the hall, change your usual route to the coffee machine so that you won’t pass by her door on the way to get your morning caffeine fix. Or, if the guy in your continuing education class continually strikes up uncomfortable conversations, arrange your schedule so that you get to class a few seconds before starting time, so that his efforts are thwarted.

Use Technology

While it may be irritating to go out with a friend only to find that she spends half the time checking texts, such technology can work to your advantage when you want to avoid someone without being obvious. The next time the pesky neighbor who keeps trying to sell you a new sprinkler system approaches, pretend as though your phone just buzzed in your pocket and excuse yourself. Or if you see your frenemy at the coffee shop, become engrossed in responding to an article on your tablet so that she won’t disturb you.

Make an Excuse

Excuses are the polite person’s way of distancing himself from awkward social situations. If your nutty ex-girlfriend approaches you in your favorite bookstore, tell her you’re happy she’s doing so well and excuse yourself by saying, “Gotta go, I’m already five minutes late for my meeting.” She doesn’t need to know that your meeting is on your couch with your cat and the book you just bought, and you’ll spare her feelings.

Be Direct

You can make a direct statement without being rude. People who do so know that it’s okay to say no, according to ombudsperson Cynthia Joyce of the University of Iowa. This is not to say that the person you intend to avoid will appreciate your directness, but in some cases, it best to avoid any semblance of ambiguity and cut to the chase. After all, there’s only so many times you can pretend to be on the phone when a persistent suitor approaches you every time you stop at your favorite watering hole. Tell the person you’d like to avoid that you would prefer to be left alone, remembering that you’re well within your rights to choose who you’d like to spend time with.