Tactless, prodding, invasive and altogether unpleasant questions that make us uncomfortable, uneasy and/or embarrassed…
“Getting married anytime soon?”
“Heading for a divorce, are you?”
“Married for 5 years and no kids yet?”
“Still a virgin? What’s wrong with you?”
You don’t wish to divulge any private information, you feel ambushed and, well, perfectly justified to feel totally pissed.
Behave like a programmer from the joke about Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson getting lost while flying over the field in the air balloon.
Sherlock Holmes shouts, leaning over and almost falling out of the basket. “I beg your pardon, sir! Do you know where we are?”
“Certainly, sir. You are in the basket of the air balloon.”
Just as well, you may give a non-committal, “fuzzy” answer:
Q: “How much exactly do you make these days?”
A: “More or less average for my field… Considerably less than your run of a mill CEO, I assure you.”
Turn on some histrionics…
Gaze at the other party with penetrating look in your eyes, sigh deeply and, pressing your hands to your chest, express endless despair. After a momentary pause, say in a deep, tragic voice, “Please! I beg of you! For the love of god, never — you hear me? — never ever ask me about it!”
Joke. It makes them mad…
Q: “Jeez! How much did you pay for this dress?”
A: “Ah, well… Had to starve for weeks, but what one wouldn’t sacrifice for the sake of fashion!”
Universal responses work just as effectively:
- “I admire your ability to ask perplexing questions.”
- “You are an incredible woman/amazing man. What impresses me the most is your remarkable ability to ask pointless questions…”
Answer the question with a question of your own. Formulate your question in such manner as to make your “interlocutor” feel ever slightly apprehensive. Be exceptionally polite, talk calmly. Don’t make excessive hand gestures. Lift your brow as if amused. Use one the following constructs:
- My understanding is that your most pressing problem at the moment is my private life, isn’t it?
- As I see it, an unhealthy interest in other people’s troubles is the order of things for you. Am I right?
- “I‘m pleased you asked. Why [this matter] is of interest to you?”
- “Do you really want to talk about it?” If the answer is yes, then say, “Too bad that I don’t!” and smile. The smile is a must.
On the other hand, if nothing works…
Dryly, icily, with a dismissive wave of the hand, “Next question, please.”
If this doesn’t work either, you may try the ultimate defense. With little emotion, an eye-roll and an enigmatic smile, say something gentle, along the lines, “I deeply touched by your concern but, frankly, it’s not your f*ing business!”