Monday, November 2, 2009

Survive Your Seatmate

Either on your way to or coming from your luxury hotel, there's a chance that you will run into what's usually referred to as the talkative seatmate (or the Talkative Airplane Seatmate, depending on where you're going): animated, excited, and incorrigible. While it can be a scary experience trying to figure out exactly how you're going to get any sleep, rest assured that plenty a traveler has dealt with this--and survived! Here are just a few tips that will help you survive the talkative seatmate, whether they are bothering you to or from the trip of a lifetime. From the bus cross-country to the city-jumping commuting plane--they are out there--be prepared!

The author's experience is typical: he was just trying to catch some shut-eye when his talkative seatmate started to regale him with stories of his job as a forklift accident expert, including funny anecdotes and other tales that kept him laughing in his seat until touchdown. These seatmates are, writes A. Pawlowski, "a species oblivious to yawns and one-word answers," meaning that they've got to be dealt with in a special way. When bored responses and cold body language simply don't do the trick, you can always employ these methods instead.

1. Know the statistics. Did you know that 24% of people like talking to others while on flights? A corporate survey shows that people, when trying to show that they want to be left alone, prefer to start reading (50%). The other group splits into groups that listen to music (38%) and pretend they are sleeping (15%).

2. Readers suggested their own personal defense against those who may even find the red eye plane trip a good time to start gabbing: they load up on whatever helps them act busy, and they add camouflage as well. One reader totes along a huge bag or reading material, including newspapers and magazines, while another one immediately adds headphones to deter any gabbing. Try offering a magazine to your talkative seatmate if things get really bad, or using extra large, full-ear headphones to get your point across.

3. Know why people want to be talking the whole time on your trip in the first place--they're not intending on torturing you. Many people want to talk because they're nervous while traveling, or they may have been apart from family members for quite some time. Other times, they may be trying to network, adds the author of this article, A. Pawlawski.

4. Keep in mind that you might even be the Talkative Seatmate in question--do you relish a good conversation with the person next to you? If you do, try to follow these rules to keep your traveling partner feeling at-ease, and be sure to make it clear that your travel buddy is under no obligation to speak with you.

*Stick to basic subjects--no tangents please, and nothing that will make the person sitting next to you feel uncomfortable.

*Know that basic acknowledgment does not green-light hours of conversation. Polite travelers will greet you before they read or listen to music.

*Pay attention to visual clues that the other person is done speaking with you. They may slowly begin taking out their iPod, for example, or unwinding their earphones.

If you've ever experienced the talkative seatmate, don't let your next trip go badly. Use these techniques to ensure a smooth ride to and from your luxury hotel.

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