We speak often about the ‘Art of the Conversation’ — that while it may appear that some people have the “gift of gab” or seem to be naturals at making gracious conversation in any social setting, it actually is a practiced habit. After all, you can’t be a skilled conversationalist if you never speak to anyone! As with any social interaction, there are always situations that require a little more thought when it comes to navigating them gracefully. We’ve all been in a conversation where someone has pried a little too much, or asked a question that was a little too personal. It usually takes us by surprise and catches us off guard, too. That’s why today, we’re giving you four tips on what to say when people are nosy.
Now, as with most tricky social situations, it’s important to take a moment (if you can) to consider why a person is being nosy. Are they genuinely concerned, and the question is coming from a place of love? Or are they looking to gossip? Trust your intuition in these situations, and know that you only have to give what information you’re comfortable giving (as we talk more about in points #1 and #3). But hopefully, as your social calendar fills up this fall, this will help you avoid not knowing what to say if someone asks a prying question.
Know that you are not required to give anyone any information that you are uncomfortable giving — say as little as you want! For example, if you have a job interview and someone is prying:
Example: “Why are you so dressed up for work today?”
Answer: “Oh, I like to change things up sometimes!”
Adding levity to your response helps keep the conversation brief and stop it before more questions are asked. If you are good with humor, use that too!
2. Redirect the conversation.
A savvy conversationalist is able to steer the conversation away from the topic at hand. For instance, if you know you are about to be with family members who are going to ask about when another baby is coming, perhaps practice some ways to steer the conversation elsewhere. Another example:
Example: “What is the rent in a place like this?”
Answer: “That’s a great question! Let me give you the building manager’s name. I think there are various units available. Here’s his email….”
3. Be vague.
It’s okay to be a bit mysterious. As we said above, you are not required to provide information about yourself to anyone with whom you are not fully comfortable. You don’t need to tell everyone every detail of your life. In our world where over-sharing can seem to be the norm, it’s okay (and actually normal) to keep some things personal and close to your chest.
Example: “Is Johnny going to have a baby sister or brother anytime soon?”
Answer: “Only time will tell!”
4. Kindly decline the question.
It may feel uncomfortable in the moment, but do know that it is alright to politely decline to answer any question that is uncomfortable, over-stepping, or impolite.
Example: “How did he die?”
Answer: “I hope you can understand I don’t feel comfortable talking about that right now.”
5. Excuse yourself from the conversation.
Now, there will be times when none of these will work — in those instances, it’s appropriate to politely excuse yourself from the conversation.
Example: “Spill the beans, when are you two getting engaged?”
Answer: “Oh I’d love to chat but you’l have to excuse me, I need to make a phone a call/powder my nose/help the host.”
How do you politely deflect prying questions?
Be sure to see more tips for gracious conversation in this post!