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Nipping Nosy Nelly

Posted Jan 07 2009 6:51pm

Saw a great article in USA Today Magazine about how to manage nosy people and their boundary crossing questions. People who gossip or need to know your business are often driven by psychological needs.

Author Peggy Post says that if you are caught off guard, try not to fall into the trap of responding in shock with the truth. That's what a nosy person is hoping you'll do. Instead, try one of these proven strategies:

Use humor. Make a joke out of the question. If asked, "Did you lose a bundle when you sold your house?" Respond with, "Why, are you offering to make up the difference?" If asked, "Are your daughter's children adopted?" Respond with, "They do have their own distinct personalities, don't they?"

Be honest."How much financial aid is your son getting for college?" Respond with, "I'm not comfortable discussing this." Or you can just say, "My mother always told me never to talk about money."

Give it right back. Turn the tables with this one-size-fits-all response to a nosy question: "Why do you ask?" This works with everything from "Why are you going to the doctor?" to "Do you color your hair?"

Establish conversational boundaries. Use body language to say "Don't go there." Cross your arms. Look 'em in the eye. Say, "Oh, I don't think that's something I'm going to discuss."

Change the subject. This is a more passive approach that can be effective for questions such as "How much did you pay for that?" Respond with, "I bought it at Macy's, and they were having and they were having a great sale. Can you believe all that new construction at the mall?"

Good suggestions, don't you think?

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