Dear Blake,

People are always collaring me, cornering me and then talking my ear off. They drone on and on for long periods of time. Family does it, friends do it and so do strangers. It’s a social situation I dread. It gives me a feeling of claustrophobia. Invariably, I can’t get a word in edgeways. It’s like people feel they have something to prove with me or are desperate for praise. I feel I can’t extricate myself without appearing downright rude or cruel. This scenario happens SO often, I sometimes wonder if maybe something is tattooed across my forehead that encourages others to dominate me with their words. What can I do to stop people from chattering at me?

Signed, Martin
From Concord, New Hampshire

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Dear Martin,

People who ramble on and on can be very irritating. There are several things you can do, that will make these people refrain from chattering nonstop in your presence… or even being anywhere near you. Here are some ideas. Stop bathing. Try to get to the point where you smell so bad, that it’s difficult for them to talk while their eyes are watering from your overwhelming stench. Or convince them that you have become deaf and they can’t communicate with you, until they are fluent in sign languages. Or this idea. No matter what they say, repeat the words, “no I don’t agree with that”. If you say that enough times, they’ll become even more irritated than you are, and will end the conversation… and your friendship too. But it possibly might be this last scenario. Maybe all of these people have interacted with you before, feel that if they yield the floor to you, you’ll say something stupid, cementing their perception of you as complete idiot. Thus, you should be grateful to them for being so protective of exposing your lack of intelligence. I think Hallmark still sells some nice overpriced “Thank You” cards, so go out and buy a box. I hope this helps.