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How do you politely ask someone to wear a face mask?

The Cleveland Clinic is here for you with tips on asking others to comply with face mask rules.

CLEVELAND — Editors Note: The video in the player above originally aired on Nov. 12.

Following the state's mask mandate is as important now as ever. COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the country, and specifically in Ohio, as we enter the holiday season. But what should you do if a stranger in public isn't wearing a face mask? 

The Cleveland Clinic is here to answer your questions on what to do if you find yourself in a situation. 

"No one likes to be controlled or told what to do, so the person might become angry or defensive towards you for confronting them, especially if you aren't discreet about it," Cleveland Clinic behavioral health therapist Kathy Barringer, LPCC, writes in a recent post on the Clinic's Health Essentials blog. "It can become an unsafe situation, particularly if the person isn't easily persuaded."

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That's why experts say the general rule of thumb is to just steer clear of the person not wearing a face mask or not wearing one correctly. People are less likely to change if they feel violated, ashamed or embarrassed, the post continues. It is recommended to maintain proper social distance rather than to risk confrontation.

Should you be in a high-risk situation, this is the only time you should personally ask someone in public to wear a face-mask, Dr. Barringer explains. "Pick your battles for the most high-risk situations," she says. "If you're in a very small coffee shop or office and physically cannot walk away or leave, that's when you should say something." That said, you will need to be respectful and non-threatening when making your request. Speaking to them quietly at a safe distance so just the two of you can hear will produce safer, better results than loudly shaming someone or directly telling them what to do. 

Above all else, you should try and focus on what you can control in these situations. You have a choice of how to control your own actions and responses. If you are able to leave or avoid the person not wearing a mask, it can be much easier than trying to control them. "Recognize that getting upset over someone else not wearing a mask won't serve you. You don't have control over them, but you do have control over yourself."