How do I stop people next to me from reading my book?

British-Tea-PotDear Gwyn,

I travel quite a bit for work and most of the time use public transportation. I’m fortunate that my city has busses and a light rail  I also fly about once a month.  It seems like whenver I’m traveling or commuting, I have a someone next to me reading my book or looking at my work. How do I keep my reading and work private?

It is fabulous that you take advantage of the public transportation system in your city. Taking the bus to and from work is one of my favorite ways to commute.  When we are commuting on public transportation by necessity or choice, there is no reason that public transportation means your work must be public too.

If you find yourself next to a nosy neighbor, be proactive to solve the situation:

  1. Selectively Choose Your Reading Material or Work: Although it is nice to think that other commuters will respect privacy of others as much as possible, you must assume that whatever you read or choose to work on in a public space is public. Working on highly private work documents or reading a romance novel may not be the best choice for your commute.
  2. Body Language for Privacy: Depending on your route and commute time, you may have a new travel companion every 5 minutes, or the same person seated next to you for 5 hours. Either way, if your neighbor takes interest in your reading material, start with body language by politely turning the information away from your neighbor.
  3. Ask for Privacy: If you body language doesn’t send a message, or your nosy neighbor continues to peak at your work (or comment on it!), ask for a bit of privacy.  Acknowledge that you are in a public shared space, and that you would like ot keep you work to yourself.  ”I’d really appreciate the opportunity to complete my work or book in private. Do you mind giving me some privacy.

Keep your commute pleasant and productive!