People are social animals which means, almost by definition, they are nosy. While most of us are able to keep our nosiness under control and can avoid asking others intensely personal questions, many of us just can’t resist. And there’s a reason people ask invasive questions: the person being questioned often answers the question, which means intrusive questioning is a rewarding activity! So what should you do when someone asks you an intrusive question? How to handle intrusive questions depends on the context and who is asking the question.
Intrusive Questions From Strangers and Acquaintances
Strangers and acquaintances who ask you intrusive questions are the most likely to be doing it out of true malice, and their questions can be the most hurtful. From questions about weight to questions about personal hygiene, disability, and other intensely personal topics, strangers simply have no right to be asking these questions. While you are right to be offended by the questioning,it’s important to maintain a calm presence and not behave as rudely as the questioner. Some ways to respond to intrusive questions from people you don’t know well are:
-Give a vague answer. If someone asks about your weight you can respond, “It’s perfect for my height and lifestyle!”
– Call the person out. If the question is particularly rude, you can say, “Now why would you ask someone something like that?” in as friendly a tone as possible and then quickly change the subject.
-Be straightforward. Explain that you’re not comfortable answering the question, then change the conversation to a more appropriate topic.
Intrusive Questions From Friends
Intrusive questions from friends can be tricky to handle. There’s a fine line between showing interest and concern and being invasive. With friends, it can be best to give the benefit of the doubt and assume that a friend simply doesn’t know you’re not comfortable talking about a particular topic. Try some of the following tactics:
-Turn the tables. Say, “I’ll answer that if you answer the same question first.”
-Be straightforward. Simply explain to your friend that you’re not comfortable answering the question and,if you’re close enough to the friend to do so, explain why you are uncomfortable answering.
Intrusive Questions From Family
Intrusive questions from family are often the most stressful, perhaps because we are so close to our family but still need to have boundaries. Whether it’s your aunt asking why you’re not married yet or your mother suggesting you try a new diet, intrusion from family often plays on lifelong issues. With parents in particular, intrusion can also make us feel very small and insignificant. The best way to avoid intrusion with family is to clearly set boundaries with them, and explain why their questions are inappropriate. If explaining the inappropriate nature of the question does not work or is not possible, try the following techniques:
-Simply refuse to answer the question, or change the subject.
-Explain why the question makes you uncomfortable.
-Turn the tables the same way you would with friends.
Every one has a right to their own personal space, so while you may feel rude deflecting intrusive questions, remember that you are carving out a space for yourself that is well-deserved.