If you have been reading my blog for a while, you would have noticed that I rarely talk about myself. I am no different in "real life" either. I consider myself to be a private person. My closest friends' and family, are the only ones that have the "inside scoop" on my personal life. So, you can imagine that I have a lot of experience fending off nosy questions!
Most of the time when someone asks you a nosy question, you are caught off guard. It can make you annoyed, angry and even depressed. Think about it. If you have been working on your fitness and trying to loose weight for the past 3 months, and out of nowhere you meet an old colleague who asks, "Are you pregnant?"
The list goes on...
"Why were you laid off?"
"When are you two planning on getting married?"
"Is your daughter adapted?"
"How come you still are single?"
I am sure that you can add a thing or two, as well! For each person the questions rub a different sensitive point. On the other hand for some of you, these questions may not be nosy.
I have always been troubled as to why people ask nosy questions. My research led me to the following.
- They are unaware that it is a nosy question People have different boundaries when it comes to their personal lives. The person asking you these questions may not consider it a “big deal” because it's not a big deal for him or her.
- They are curious They want to feed their snooping mind with the details. It may be for casual conversation or to spread the word. Or simply, they just don’t have anything better to do!
For example, I know that some people are comfortable talking about their personal finances in public. No surprise, I am not one of them!
Each question relates differently to different people. As a result even I could be asking a nosy question unknowingly.
Another inexcusable reason is
Some people think that they should be able to know, and don't understand "what the big deal is." Its not that it’s a big deal, I just think its personal!
#1. The subtle hint by repeating
Wear them down by cheerfully repeating the same answer.
“You two were an adorable couple. Why did you break up?”
"Oh, there were a lot of complicated practicalities,"
“But why did you break up?”
"Well, as I said, there were a lot of complicated practicalities,"
If needed followed by, "I told you that there were a lot of complicated practicalities."
#2. It depends on what the meaning of “is” is
Take Bill Clinton’s Grand Jury testimony, for example,
ATTORNEY: Whether or not Mr. Bennett knew of your relationship with Ms. Lewinsky, the statement that there was “no sex of any kind in any manner, shape or form, with President Clinton,” was an utterly false statement. Is that correct?
CLINTON: It depends upon what the meaning of the word “is” is. If the-if he-if “is” means “is and never has been and is not” –that is one thing. If it mean there is none, that was completely true statement.
Now how can one retort to such answer?
#3. Redirect the conversation
Otherwise known as changing the subject! You can build up on the question and say, “Now that you mentioned… ” or “I am going to get a drink, do you want one?” etc
Thinking of a way to redirect the conversation at the snap of a nosy question is always difficult. But surely with practice, you will be able to diligently master this technique.
#4. Smile and say nothing!
This works wonders in a phone conversation. Sometimes, I just laugh and then keep silent.
#5. Vague replies
“What’s your salary like?”
“Oh well, I earn enough to get by”
Warning: This method does not work with the stubborn variety of inquisitive people, though. They just continue asking with even more persistence.
#6. Get distracted!
Proceed to get up (if you're sitting) and walk to another place. Rummage through your handbag as if you remembered something. Pick up the newspaper or magazine and leaf through it. Take out your cell phone and go through your text messages. You get the point…
#7. Be Honest
Sometimes the best approach in dealing with nosy questions are to just come right out and say it.
"I'm not comfortable talking about the specifics of our finances."
They may still feel put off, but at least they'll understand why you're clamming up.
#8. Don’t feed information
If you are a private person, don’t give out your “private” information to each and everyone. If you do, it will be a breading ground for more inquisitive questions!
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