How to Respond to Nosey Questions Perfectly


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You know the awkwardness ... those nosey questions that make you squirm and twist your tongue. These tips will help you answer nosey questions easily.

Personal nosey questions…

They can make you break out in a cold sweat, avoid new situations, and look for the closest exits.

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 nosey questions when everything inside of us is screaming MYOB (mind your own business).

Nosey personal questions... They can make you break out in a cold sweat, avoid new situations, and look for the closest exit

How to Respond to 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.

Judgment that is wrong and unfair.

Don’t confuse being nosey with being friendly.

So, to prevent unwanted opinions and unnecessary judgment, remember Rev’s wise words to me, It’s okay to not tell every little thing you know.

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and stop to pray one or two of the requests listed.

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  1. Deb,
    I KNOW! ME TOO! I have such a need for truth that I spill too easily as I think I SHOULD tell them the amount in my checking account. Now…I am 57…so I have gotten better. But I love that you are giving us overspillers permission to calm the need to spill too much with humor and truth. Great post!

    1. Kathy Mayer says:

      My standard answer “Nonya”

      1. Vernetta Evans says:

        LOL. This to is my final answer. But I thank God that he has been helping me day by day become better at responding to my Fellow Humans.

        1. I love it! Thanks, Vernetta! Blessings!

  2. Deb, I’m just like you. I tend to overshare my own info, though not info about others. Why? I guess I want to be kind and friendly. Also, I’m a deep thinker, and sometimes a person’s nosey question doesn’t register right away–I simply answer it without thinking. But you are right–not everyone needs to know everything about me. I like the idea of using humor to deflect questions, and having a prepared answer. Sharing this post, friend.

    1. Thanks so much, Sarah! Your encouragement is always a big blessing! It’s taken a long time for me to my need to overshare! Being prepared in advance has been the answer. Have a wonderful day, my friend!

  3. VERY practical tips here. I’m so bad at thinking up responses on the spot. Your post reminds me that I can actually be prepared for a lot of these awkward moments in advance. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Enjoyed this article! It is very useful.

  5. Thank you for this. I “confused” not being honest if I did not always give an answer, to personal privacy.
    Many times I have been nervous about questions coming my way I did not want to answer.
    I needed this blog!

  6. Great article Deb…. my dad would always give nosey people a smart aleck answer, like when he lost his leg to cancer and had to use crutches, so one day we were waiting in line for something and this lady who we didn’t know said “how’d you lose your leg” my father gently responded….”a shark ripped it off” she just looked stunned. I’ve used the same method when someone wants to be nosey. It’s fun and catches folks off guard.

    1. Oh, I love that, Katie! Humor is a terrific way to respond to nosey questions with getting defensive or offensive! Your dad sounds like a great man! Thanks so much for stopping to join the conversation! God bless you!

  7. Thanks for this post! It was a confirmation of the convictions I have been getting. Especially when people ask about my adult children. I feel like their stories are not for me to tell.

    1. You are most welcome! And I completely agree! And your adult children thank you! God bless you!

    2. So true I’m learning to let scripture to the talking for peace of mind

    3. So good to know that my wife and myself aren’t alone it can be a struggle the blessing of silence usually works for me never comes off rude my in-laws just change the subject to something else

  8. Katherine says:

    Thanks so much for this advice. I hope I can remember to use these answers on that spur of the moment question. I enjoy your blog and find encouragement and wisdom with each one, as well as learning Gods word.

    1. Thank you, Katherine! I am blessed by your kind encouragement! God bless you!

  9. Hi Deb,
    Is it mere coincidence that i bumped into your link on Pinterest today? Since the past two weeks I ‘v been regretting my overly courteous and polite nature that let nosey people to catch me off guard. Always!
    Every time i promise to myself that I would be more stern and terse with my replies. But every time some very personal questions come from unexpected corners, I stumble and fumble on words. And exactly as you’ve said, when you tell the truth, people use it to judge and assess you the wrong way!! And i live in regret the next 6 months!!
    Sometimes, jokes too don’t work, like in my recent case, when people take my humour as guilt or shame or secret !!! i’v been feeling so low the past 2 weeks when my conduct and integrity itself was questioned and mocked at!
    As usual, I ran to God with complaints, but God told me that it is part of HIS package for this season; that He is teaching me to handle people and get out of my “over sensitive” & perhaps “people-pleasing” nature. So I’m taking it with a pinch of salt and hardening my heart.
    Seeing your post was soothing. Thank you Deb. God bless you.

    1. I’m so glad it helped, Ash! I try to avoid becoming hardened to people especially when they’re mocking or unkind … whew, that’s hard! Which is why I’ve come up with ways to change the subject without being rude. Truthfully, it’s okay to simply say – I don’t feel like talking about that right now. Thanks so much for visiting and for your encouragement. God bless you!

  10. Thanks and God bless you, Deb!

  11. Judi Breese says:

    I really like this article and it got me thinking. God is our fortess folks so I rely on Him. 1. If someone asks how much you make, I’d reply “$250,000 a year, at least by faith, so help me pray!” BIG SMILE. 2. How much did you make last year, “Every penny God blessed me with!” 3. How much did you pay for X, “I paid exactly what God helped me afford.” 4. Any “why or when” questions, “It will happen as God unfolds his plan for that. I’m trusting Him!” If they ask about age, weight, or anything to do with sex or relationships. Say, “Oh being an elegant lady, we aren’t to discuss those things remember? OR “I know Gods got that all planned out, I’ll let you know when I know.” Why can’t you attend the _____? “God’s prompting in another direction.
    Have you ever _____? By God’s grace, He’s kept me from a lot of things. I’ll give you my testimony someday.
    May God give us all quick minds to respond 😉

    1. What fun answers, Judi! Thank you so much for sharing them with us! I love it! And God gets all the glory!! Blessings!

  12. My mother-in-law had a great response to such questions: I’ll forgive you for asking if you’ll forgive me for not answering.

    I only wish I had remembered to use it recently! In stead I just told the person I wasn’t giving them an answer because it was too fun to watch them deal with my non-response.

    1. I love that, Gail! What a great answer! I want to remember that one!! Your mother-in-law sounds like a wise woman! God bless you!

  13. This is very interesting and inspiring. I have been so bad at this and many people ask questions as my family is VERY mix raced for several generations. I have answered most questions, especially when I was younger (I am a grandmother now and know better, finally) and as you say above, then people start judging or start telling you how to live life “better”. I was young when I married and started a family and many people asked questions about that too. My sister was smarter than I. She always said to nosy people “Why are you saying that?” and that made them stop most of the time. I made a rule never to ask anybody nosy questions. And I never do. (Sorry for bad English, it is not my language)

    1. Hi Anna, I thought you did a great job with your English! I like your sister’s response to nosey questions. It’s always nice to know why people are asking. I’m so glad you visited and really appreciated that you paused to join the conversation. Thanks so much! God bless you!

  14. The biggest mistake most people make is volunteering personal and private info to begin with. All you succeed in doing is empowering that person to judge you and trash you behind your back. I love to give a nosey individual the most absurd answer I can think of. eg Why are you on disability ? answer “I was found mentally incompetent by a judge after a attempted murder charge.” You would’t believe the idiots who take the bait and ask what happened. My basic reply is “A co worker kept asking me nosey questions and I threw him off a roof. (shot,stabbed, set on fire, ran over etc etc) that part can vary. How do they take it ? Haven’t had one yet that didn’t immediately end the convo. I love those awkward silences that follow.

    1. Ray, you sound like you have a great sense of humor. I love that! Thanks so much for visiting and for adding to the conversation. God bless you!

  15. I found your post really helpful, thank you. I was diagnosed with Autism as an adult and have always struggled with social situations and conversations all my life. I’m not alway able to spot when someone is being nosey or just friendly. Understanding that there are personal questions that I don’t have to answer has been difficult to learn. One specific incident sticks in my mind… I was on a train by myself going to college and a man asked me where I was going, so I told him. He asked if I was meeting my friends, what I was studying, where I hang out, what station I was getting off at, how old I was and finally where I lived. I had answered all of his questions and it took a lady stepping in and telling me “you shouldn’t answer that, you dont have to tell him.” for me to stop and realise. I would spot a dodgy situation like that now, but your list of responses is still very helpful to me.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing your story, Siobhan. I am glad that you found my post helpful and encouraging. Asking God to surround you with His peace and love as He guides you and watches over you each day. Blessings!

  16. Teresa huntington says:

    I was asked outright what lump sum I got for my pension. I was so gobsmacked I said. I could have kicked myself but I said I never want it spoken off. I get so stunned when people ask that or assume they have the right to come into your garden without asking or walking in your front door just because they are your friends.

    1. That’s a tough personal question and invasion of personal space. I hope some of the tips here have been a help. I know answering with humor has always helped me. Thanks for visiting. God bless you!