How To Talk To Someone About Their Bad Social Distancing

Things are opening up, but they won’t stay that way unless we all keep up with our social distancing. And that’s why it can be really frustrating when you’re doing your best to see a friend or family member being loosey-goosey out in public. You want to yell “this is why we can’t have nice things,” but you know that won’t help. So instead, here’s how experts say to talk to someone about bad social distancing practices.

  • Listen.If the government and scientific experts couldn’t convince them to wear a mask out in public, do you really think you can lecture them into it? Clinical psychologist Josh Klapow says the first step to talking about social distancing is to “extend compassion” and “not to make assumptions.” Ask questions and really listen. That’s the only way you’ll be able to figure out why they think it’s a “hoax.”
  • Concern.Family therapist Heidi McBain says a good way to get through to them is to let them know you’re not only nervous for your own health but theirs. They can’t get mad at you if you’re worried about their well-being, right? Then again, if they think everything is all made up, they might just dig their heels in, and you’ll be back to square one.
  • Set Boundaries.With something like this, you need to make yourself heard to protect your quarantine bubble. "You can let them know that while it is their choice to social distance or not,” says Klapos, “it is your duty to protect yourself and the rest of the people around you.” Let them know that if they want to avoid hand sanitizer at work that’s one thing, but if they’re coming to your socially distanced BBQ, they’ve got to live by your house rules.

Just remember that boundaries only work if they have meaningful consequences. Sometimes it might be painful to cut out a friend, but if they aren’t going to respect your health or feelings, were they really much of a friend to begin with?

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