Responding to personal questions requires communication and social skills.
Tell me about…I politely replied, “I’d rather not talk about that.”
Okay, I agree, that was not assertive. But should a person have to be? In this case, yes. They pressed and pressed, “Come on, you can tell us…” Exasperated, I broke down and spilled the beans. On the days that followed, I became angrier and angrier, at them for asking. It was me that I should have been angry at; it was my choice to spill the beans. Yes, they were rude in insisting, but I controlled the information.
Have you ever been caught off guard, unprepared with a response? Don’t let that happen again. Choose a phrase and practice it. Practice out loud, so that when the time comes, you are able to calmly reply.
Handling personal questions in the workplace can be especially tricky. While you want to build rapport with coworkers, you do have the right to establish boundaries. This is when social skills and communication techniques come in handy. I address how in my Let’s Keep it Civil presentation.
While these comebacks may come to mind, they are kind of rude:
- “That is none of your business!”
- “You didn’t just ask me that!”
- “What, are you writing a book?”
12 ways to respond to personal questions:
- You can simply ignore the question, by asking another question, or pause, look t them for a moment, excuse yourself or engage the person next to you in conversation. (A sharp move.)
- There are much more interesting things that we can talk about. (Change the subject: Do you have a vacation planned? Not that you care, but it is an “out.”)
- It’s not something I talk about.
- Thank you for your interest, but I’d rather not discuss my personal life.
- Do you mind telling me why you are asking? (It will either make them fumble or open the door for diving deeper.)
- Do you really need to know? (A bit risky. What if their answer is, “yes”?)
- I assure you, it’s not the interesting…anyway, how’s that bunion of yours?
- I’m sorry, that’s not the sort of information I share with anyone.
- Wow, that’s pretty personal, don’t you think? (Stinger.)
- This is a first. People don’t usually ask me questions like that.
- What do you mean?
- I save that for close friends.
Some of these responses do leave room for a comeback; choose the phrase carefully.
Rosalinda’s remarks: Whatever words you choose when you respond, it is more effective when you smile, maintain eye contact, remain calm, and use a controlled and steady tone. Sadly, some people get a kick out of flustering others.
Helping Businesses and Individuals Find Success Through Better Communication and Social Skills
Rosalinda Oropeza Randall, Social Skills and Civility Presenter, Media Source, and author of “Don’t Burp in the Boardroom.”
Presentations are available to support HR policies, sales teams, up and coming managers, millennials & new-hire orientation process, service technicians, professional development events, conferences, college/university students, interns. For more information, please contact me, 650.871.6200.
© 2017 Rosalinda Randall. All Rights Reserved.