Nunya Bizness

What is the best way to handle the following situation:

Someone whom you have very recently met, asks you a perfectly innocent, and non-disrespectful question. This person is only trying to do two things: (a) “break the ice” (b) get to know you.

However, if you were to literally and honestly answer their question, it would be “too much information, too soon.” Their asking the question, was not inappropriate, but your answer is inappropriate to share, this early on.

How do you politely tell the person who is asking, it is none of their business…
[li]It is none of their business, this soon in the acquaintanceship[/li][li]without you being overly defensive[/li][li]without the asker finding you suspicious[/li][li]without you being offensive[/li][li]letting the asker know that they are not necessarily wrong, in asking what they asked, and that you were not offended by them.[/li][/ul]

a. Change the subject.

b. Make a joke out of their Q.

c. Answer with a Q.

For example, if someone asks, “Do you attend movies for free?” Answer: “What? Are you writing a book about me?” :wink:

You could come up with a very vague, nonspecific answer to that sort of question. Something that is not false, but also doesn’t give too much information. If they ask for more detail, it’s OK to gently say, “I’d rather not talk about it.” Any polite person will let it drop at that point.

For example, if you’re not working due to mental illness and upon meeting someone they ask you, “So, what do you do?” you could say, “I’m not working right now because of medical problems.” That would not be untrue, but also doesn’t reveal too much.

I like your answer Geobabe.

However, what should one do if, upon doing the above, the asker still persists? I have found this to happen. People occasionally can’t tolerate not knowing something they aren’t supposed to know. Vagueness and witholding information can easily stimulate curiosity even further.

Geobabe’s answer is indeed quite good.

Without knowing specifics, obviously, it’s tough to know appropriate or inappropriate this solution is, but if they just don’t “get it”:

When all else fails, tell the truth.

And if that’s not acceptable, tell the other truth:

It’s NOYFB :slight_smile:

Seriously, I’ve done both. Sometimes you really do need to hit people over the head with a 2x4 to get their attention.

Good luck!


If someone persists after “I’d rather not say,” then it is OK to tell them that it’s really none of their business. I wouldn’t worry about offending them at that point because they’re already being rude.

Something I picked up from my roommates:
“It’s a long story, and not that interesting.”
And then change the subject, or continue with some other conversational thread. Anyone with even a marginally functional social radar will take the hint, and move on, with no lost face on either side.

If your interlocutor persists, I suppose you can always claim that the subject is so uninteresting that it would offend you, as an interesting person, to discuss such a boring topic. Indeed, you would be forced to commit hara-kiri immediately upon finishing your discourse, so profound would be the dishonor you had perpetrated upon generations of your anscestors, sparkling conversationalists all. Nothing’ll get a subject dropped like the threat of ritual suicide, I figure.

Just lie for godsakes! It’s easy…don’t fret about being nice or polite or any crud like that. One big blatant lie never hurt anyone.

Then if you DO go on to develop a friendship later, you can fill in the details. By then you and ‘friend’ will have enough interest and committment to the r’ship to make telling the truth worthwhile.

I tend to say “Don’t worry about it” and smile, unless someone REALLY persists, and then I’ll do what I can to give them more information than they really wanted, which makes them wish they hadn’t pressed on. Usually that’ll also dissuade them from asking much of anything else (their fault for pressing the matter, I figure).

Wow, MagicalSilverKey. That’s some question!

I’m not really comfortable going into that with you at this time, though.

Perhaps, when we know each other better???

:wally Somebody had to do the above, sooner or later. :wally

And yet it is the appropriate response.

“I’m not comfortable discussing it with you at this time.”

No confrontation or judgement. Nothing at all to take offense at.

I try to start by saying that I feel unconfortable discussing the issue at this time. If the person persists, I usually try to distract them by telling a story so obviously false and outragous that they laugh and say they don’t believe me. I then tell them that the real story is so dull compared to the story I just told them that it isn’t worth bothering with.

Occasionally, I’ll just bluntly ask them, “Would you rather hear an ugly truth, or a very ornate lie meant to throw you off the trail?” I ask this as nicely as possible, but it is disconcerting enough for most people to back off. I then act disappointed that I won’t get to try out my ridiculous cover story, it gets a laugh most of the time, allowing me to steer the subject to other topics.

I am usually direct and honest and tell all. I should be use to their response by now, when I find them running away with there hands over there face sceaming obscenities.

Nah… but honestly, if you ask me a question, and you are a potential “whatever”, be it a date, boyfriend, or friend, I will tell you the honest answer.

It’s a defect not an asset. I have a big mouth and I open myself up alot of the time for judgement. That’s how I am, and I rather be honest about myself instead of living a lie.

Honesty is not having to remember what you’ve said.