6 tips on how to avoid answering personal questions

There are some people you try your best to avoid at every gathering, for they are well-known for asking intrusive questions. Others pop up with unwanted interrogation sessions when you are least expecting them: during a job interview, during a bus ride, or when you run into them during grocery shopping.

Obviously, none of us feel comfortable being asked about personal details of our lives, especially by people we hardly know, or those we are not particularly close to. Therefore, today we will be sharing some tips on how to avoid answering personal questions.

Build your support network

At times we just know in advance that we will be asked some unwanted, detested question at a family gathering from Aunt Jo, or Uncle George.

A question like:

“Why did you switch the better paying job with your current occupation?”, or

“When do you plan to start a family?”

Firstly, decisions like these are personal and hence, should not be questioned. Secondly, even if you would answer such questions telling them you had a passion to explore new opportunities, or the fact that you and your partner were not ready for that sort of responsibility yet, chances are that your responses would again be followed by a plethora of questions.

Therefore, the best way to avoid such a situation is to prepare a network of supportive allies in advance. For example, tell a trusted cousin or a sibling beforehand to jump in instantly when such a question is directed to you, and come to the rescue by saying something like:

“Common, now that’s too personal to ask!”, or

“What difference does it make if she’s happy that way?”

This will help divert the attention and probably lead to a change of topic, thus saving you from the discomfort of answering an unwanted question.

Buy yourself some time to draft a better response

Many times, when an unexpected question is posed to you, we tend to get confused and unwillingly share the information you don’t want to, because you can’t think of anything else to say at that particular moment. A strategy on how to avoid answering personal questions is, to try and get some time to think about a smart reply.

To sneak away, you could use excuses such as:

“—Oh, I need to catch that person and request them to drop you home, I`ll just be back in a moment”, or

“Let me grab a glass of water and I`ll be right back”.

Use a bridge response

Sometimes the best way to dodge a question is to add a “bridge” of another topic between the query and the response. For example, if you are not willing to comment on the topic initiated by the other person, divert the conversation tactfully by sharing a piece of news that is somehow related to the topic.

Prepare a comeback in advance

There are certain life events which mentally prepare us for a series of intrusive questions. No matter, how much we try to avoid talking about them, someone or the other will make sure to fulfil their responsibility of inquiring about those incidents.

When such a situation is unavoidable, the best approach is to prepare a suitable response in advance. For example, a question regarding your reason to quit the last job would definitely be asked during a job interview. If you resigned due to personal reasons that you are not comfortable sharing those details during the interview, it is better you draft a standard response along the lines of your desire to learn new skills, and your wish to progress in a different field.

Knowing what to say in the event of a difficult question would save you from the sudden panic and confusion that is more likely to make your resistance obvious.

Similarly, if you fear people won’t stop asking the reason for your divorce or your decision to have a child via surrogacy, you can prepare comebacks in advance that would leave the other person dumb-founded. If you are lucky, they might avoid asking personal questions in the future as well, though we cannot guarantee that.

Crack a joke to divert the topic

We have all heard the phrase:

“Laughter is the best medicine”.

Apparently, humor is not only helpful for our physical health, but may also aid in the development of mental peace by letting us deflect a question that we are not comfortable answering.

The next time someone asks you about your age or salary, you can try diverting attention by saying something like:

“Age is just a number”, or

“Ssshhh… it’s a secret!”.

Simply refuse to answer

When discussing the multiple methods of how to avoid answering personal questions, the simplest and most straightforward of all is to clearly and blatantly refuse to answer a question you are not comfortable responding to.

Remember it’s your right to not share any information regarding yourself that you do not want to, and you should not feel any shame or guilt when communicating that fact to others. You do not have an obligation towards most people, but if you want to maintain friendly relationship and fear that they would get offended, then use any of the techniques that we have listed in this article.

We hope you are able to avoid the unwanted, intrusive questions the next time they are posed to you, because we understand the struggle is real.

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