How to Handle Nosey Questions

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So be happy when you are insulted for being a Christian, for then the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you. If you suffer, however, it must not be for murder, stealing, making trouble, or prying into other people’s affairs.
1 Peter 4:14-15

I can be honest to a fault. Not an unkind fault . . . brutal honesty is one of my least favorite phrases. I’m just terrible at keeping secrets – well my secrets anyway. As a pastor’s wife I’ve learned to keep other people’s secrets.

I’m just a terrible liar, and when asked a personal question I stumble all over myself and then spill my guts.

Dealing with “Nosey Nellie” has always been challenging for me. You know her. She’s the one who asks:

  • What do you weigh?
  • When are you going to start a family?
  • Why are you still single?
  • Why did you break up?
  • How much did you pay for your car, house, etc?
  • Why can’t you attend the ___________?
  • Have you ever ___________?
  • How much did you make last year?

Some questions hit home harder than others, based on your personality, the circumstances, or relationship to the person asking. So, how should you and I handle personal questions when everything inside of us is screaming MYOB (mind your own business).

How to Handle Nosey Questions

1. Take a Deep Breath –  An “in with the butterflies, out with the bees” breath. Stay calm.

2. Use Humor – Laughter tends to put everyone at ease, and will relax you. So make a joke out of it by saying things like:

Weight questions – “The same thing I weighed last week.” “I forgot to check today.”
Family questions – “I’m waiting to see how your kids turn out first.”
Price questions – “Somewhere between $100 and $1,000,000.”
Salary questions – “My boss thinks it’s more than enough.”

Generic answer – “I’d tell you but then . . . I’d have to kill you or we can’t be friends”

3. Respond with a Question – Turn the tables by asking a question that let’s the questioner know you’re not comfortable sharing the asked for information. Questions like:

“Why do you want to know?”
“Did you really just ask me that?”
“What do you think?”

4. Have a “go to” Answer - Have a standard practiced answer that makes you comfortable. Things like:

“I’d rather not talk about it.”
“I’m not at liberty to say.”
“I’m not comfortable talking about it.”

5. Remember it’s Okay to be Private – Not every question needs or deserves an answer. It’s okay to have private thoughts, feelings, and opinions. You don’t have to give a reason for every decision.

Too often answers to nosey questions open us up to judgment. Judgement that is wrong and unfair. So, to prevent unwanted opinions and unnecessary judgment, remember Rev’s wise words to me, “It’s okay to not tell everything you know.