How To Get People To Go Away

Whether it’s people wanting you to give to charity or sign their petition when you walk down the street, or your family demanding things of you just as you sit down to an evening’s relaxation in front of the TV or an urgent deadline that requires your undivided attention, sometimes you just wish you knew how to get people to go away, don’t you?

With the following tips, you can learn this and get the time and space you need, without causing too much offence.

1. Avoid eye contact

This method perhaps works best when dealing with people in the street that you don’t know: strangers asking you to take leaflets, sign a petition etc. Just avoid looking directly at them and keep walking. The vast majority of people won’t have the confidence or bad manners to push for contact under these circumstances.

2. Wear headphones

The various personal entertainment devices that are popular today can be great for avoiding unwanted attention. If you have your headphones on, it will be clear to the other person that you can’t easily hear them, so they won’t bother talking to you unless it’s important.

It works especially well if you also combine it with the previous strategy and don’t look directly at people. That makes it especially hard for other people to grab your attention.

3. Scowl

Just as a smile will encourage people to interact with you, a scowl will have the opposite effect. It sends out a message that you are not to be messed with, at least at this point in time.

The above guidelines are intended particularly for use out on the street, but they will also work at home. However, now let’s move on to some methods to get people to go away if you are at home and just want to be left alone for some peace or to get on with something you need to do.

4. Establish some ground rules

This is especially important when you are dealing with children. If you set up your house rules in such a way that a person’s bedroom is their sanctuary and that you must knock to enter, and that a closed bedroom door indicates that one does not want to be disturbed, you will find it much easier to get people to go away and leave you in peace.

5. Be honest

Again this works best with family and friends. If you are feeling overwhelmed and don’t have the time or energy to deal with all the demands upon you, explain this to the people interrupting you.

6. Strike a deal

After being honest about your need to be left alone, put some limits upon it so people can see that you are willing to be reasonable and that there will be a certain point at which you will again be happy to communicate with them and meet their needs.

So, for example, you might say, “I really need to get this article written now, but when I’ve done that I’ll come and look through your homework” or something like that. It’s not blackmail, it is teaching your children in particular about give and take and compromise. That is a very useful lesson.

7. Get on with what you need to do

Be persistent and do what it is that you set out to do, regardless of interruptions. If you back down now, you will not be taken seriously next time. So, just calmly and in a matter of fact fashion, carry on with your business.

If you get a disgruntled response to this, then just calmly state, “Well, I told you that I need to (do whatever it is that you’re doing)”. You haven’t conned anyone and it’s their problem if they didn’t listen to or respect what you needed to do.

So, in these ways, no matter what the situation, you can learn how to get people to go away.


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Peter W. Murphy is a peak performance expert. His focus is on key distinctions that make a big difference. He enjoys going deep into a research topic to discover the often overlooked but key elements anyone can focus on to achieve much better results. Peter enjoys competitive tennis, travel, good friends, loud music and taking time to enjoy the moment.