Q: How do you tell a stranger in a store who is not respecting the social distancing guidelines to back up?
A: How you do it makes a huge difference in how well it's received. When social distancing boundaries are violated, you should always start from a place of kindness and only escalate if necessary. And remember that we can't control others' actions; we only can control what we say and do.
Start by saying in a friendly and upbeat tone, "Would you mind creating a little bit more space between us, please? Thank you. I really appreciate it." If you have room to move, say, "Sorry, I'm trying to keep 6 feet away," while stepping back.
If the other person continues to disrespect social distancing guidelines, then you can seek the help of someone who is in charge. That will ensure you aren't dealing with the problem alone.
With that being said, you should never do this as a way to shame or punish someone else, only to protect everyone's health and safety.
BONNIE TSAI, etiquette expert and founder of Beyond Etiquette
A: COVID-19 cases are surging. This is due to several factors, the most glaring of which is that people aren't following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations to stay home and maintain a safe distance from others when out in public.
Being a woman has provided plenty of lessons over the years on the invasion of personal space. Here are a few tips on re-establishing your boundaries, adjusted for the pandemic.
• Move away. Scream-whispering "social distance, social distance, social distance" as you walk away won't hurt.
• Nonverbal option: Make direct eye contact with the offender, then the stickers on the ground marking 6 feet, then back again with the offender. Some people just need a reminder about spacing rules.
• Ask the other person to please step back a little. If the person doesn't listen, ask someone who works there to help you. Make sure you remain 6 feet away from store clerks/salespeople while you're speaking to them.
At this point in the pandemic, people know what they are supposed to do to ensure the health and safety of themselves and their community. So don't feel guilty about asking someone to respect your space.
ALEX KUMIN, writer