Civility: Inappropriate Questions to Ask People
There’s a way to try to get to know someone without asking intrusive inappropriate questions. Give your friendship time to progress. Some answers to your curiosity will follow in time. Let the information come forward within the natural progress of the conversation or relationship.
Too many people are quick to ask indiscreet personal questions. Before asking a personal question, you should stop and think long enough to consider whether or not the question will embarrass, hurt, or make the other person uncomfortable. Being civil towards one another resides in you exercising discretion. Don’t appear to be eager to take the cover off someone else’s private business.
Although you may not use someone’s private information to gossip, it doesn’t make your line of questioning any less intrusive. Also, seeking permission to ask an inappropriate question doesn’t make it any less intrusive. So, before you ask someone, “May I ask you a personal question?” ask yourself, “Will this person really want to share that much information about themselves with me?” If you’re a person that’s going to repeat what they tell you, more than likely they know it and will not want to tell you, so don’t ask.
A List of Inappropriate Questions
A lot of people have parts of their lives that they do not want open for public view. So, privacy-probing questions like the ones below can be embarrassing or upsetting:
- Why are you so pale?
- What size are you?
- What political party do you represent?
- Is that all your hair or is it a weave?
- Are your eyes really that color?
- Are you buying your home or renting it?
- How much is your rent or mortgage?
- How did you lose your property?
- Are you buying that car or leasing it?
- How much is your car note?
- Who did you vote for?
- What are you going to the doctor for?
- What kind of surgery did you have?
- Why haven’t you and your boyfriend got married yet?
- Why did you break-up or get a divorce?
- How much money do you make?
- How old are you?
- How did you lose your job?
“Never miss a chance to keep your mouth shut.”
–Robert Newton Peck
A List of Civil Responses to Inappropriate Questions
How are you to respond to questions you feel are intrusive? You are to respond in a civil manner. But, that doesn’t mean you have to tell your private business. Whenever your privacy is threatened, here are some responses you can use to defend your privacy:
- I’d prefer not to answer that.
- Pause, smile and say, “I’m not going to answer that question.”
- I don’t feel comfortable talking about that.
- That’s not something I want to get into right now.
- This is not a good time to talk about that.
- I’d prefer not to discuss my personal business.
- I’m sorry, but I don’t see why you need to know that.
- That’s something I like to let others decide for themselves about.
- Give a vague answer, end with something positive, and divert the conversation back to them. For example, we had issues that we couldn’t overcome and things are better this way. So, how are things with you?
- I had an unforeseen situation that occurred, but I’m working on getting back what I loss.
Every encounter of inappropriate questions comes with its own polite deterrent responses.
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