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20-40-60 Etiquette: Should I talk to strangers?

What do I do when strangers recognize me because of my job? 20-40-60 etiquette weighs in, with Yvette Walker as guest.
BY CALLIE GORDON, LILLIE-BETH BRINKMAN, HELEN FORD WALLACE Modified: May 18, 2012 at 2:48 pm •  Published: May 18, 2012

QUESTION: I work for a local television station and sometimes appear on camera. At times, people elsewhere recognize me and always have a comment, such as “I saw you on TV” or “you are that person who talked about the fire last night.” It is now a problem and takes all my time to stop and talk to strangers. What is my response to random people who stop me? Should I ignore them or say, “Thanks for watching; I don't have time to talk about it now?”

CALLIE'S ANSWER: Price of being on TV, I'm afraid. I would say something along the lines of, “Yes, that's me! Thanks for watching.” or “Keep watching.”

LILLIE-BETH'S ANSWER: Like it or not, you are now in the public eye and that's going to happen. And keep in mind that any reaction you have to a person who recognizes you will reflect on your employer, good or bad. If you ignore the comments, people will associate their negative feelings with the TV station; if you are positive, good feelings are linked to your employer.

Yes, people impose on “celebrities,” even lesser ones (by their own admission) who only occasionally appear on TV. If fans are rude or pushy, I don't think you can fight their imposition on your time with rudeness in return. From your question, it sounds like the people have good intentions and just want to acknowledge they saw you on TV. Take it as a compliment and be as gracious as possible. Also, ask your co-workers who are on TV more frequently for ideas about how they balance the enthusiastic recognition from others with their own need for privacy.

HELEN'S ANSWER: It is always fun to recognize a television personality or someone with “star” power out in the public, and we all want to stop and have a chat with them. We think we know them well.

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