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Personal Questions & Unsolicited Advice This Holiday Season

During the holidays we often see people we haven’t seen in a long time. Your family and friends care about you and want to hear what’s happening in your life. Caring and curiosity can lead people to ask questions that you don’t want to answer.

Over Thanksgiving last year I was holding my sister-in-law’s adorable baby. That prompted another family member to ask when I was going to have a baby. I was completely taken aback by the question and simply replied, “I don’t know.”

Friends and family don’t need to know everything that’s happening in your life. None of your business – said a bit differently – is a perfectly acceptable reply. You decide what to share.

Personal Questions & Unsolicited Advice This Holiday Season

Here are a few possible replies to questions you don’t want to answer:

Question: “What’s happening with that nice young man/woman you’ve been dating?”

Answer: “Things are going great. Thanks for asking.”

Question: “Are you guys serious?”

Answer:  “We like each other a lot. If it goes further, I’ll let you know.”  Aka, this conversation is over.

Here’s another scenario:

Question: “Are you dating anyone?”

Answer:  “No, not right now.”

Question: “You know, I met my husband on Match.com. Have you tried online dating?”

Answer:  “That’s great that you met online. I don’t really want to talk about my dating life. What else is happening?”

The next thing she says, “You really should try it. You need to be open. You just never know.”

Answer:  “I really appreciate your interest. I’m not looking for dating advice right now, but I really appreciate your concern.”  Aka, shut up.

The examples above are about romantic relationships but they could have been about careers, kids, or finances. Your response can be the same. You don’t need to tell anyone anything you don’t want to. It’s ok to tell people to back off and that something is none of their business. You can say it nicely. Just don’t let yourself get cornered into giving information you don’t want to share.

An appropriate answer to almost any personal question is, “I don’t have anything to report on this front, but I’ll let you know when I do.”

An appropriate response to any type of unsolicited advice is, “Thanks so much for your concern. I’m not looking for advice on _____, but I really appreciate you caring.”

Telling someone to back off is perfectly appropriate. S/he’ll get the point and your personal life will remain personal. Boundaries are your friend.

Read How to Say Anything to Anyone, and be ready to manage intrusive questions and unsolicited advice this holiday season. We’re offering a special holiday deal. It’s the best price you’ll find anywhere.

By Shari Harley, Keynote Speaker and Founder and President of www.candidculture.com.

 

About 

Shari Harley is the founder and President of Candid Culture, a Denver-based training firm that is bringing candor back to the workplace, making it easier to give feedback at work. Shari is the author of the business communication book How to Say Anything to Anyone: A Guide to Building Business Relationships that Really Work. She is a keynote speaker at conferences and does training throughout the U.S. Learn more about Shari Harley and Candid Culture’s training programs at www.candidculture.com.

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3 Responses to “Personal Questions & Unsolicited Advice This Holiday Season”

  1. Sarah says:

    Been there! Nice to have a few more options of what to say instead of my usual ‘deer caught in the headlights’ response.

  2. Karen Lowenthal says:

    Thanks Shari.

    Once again ( as always) you are right on target with the timing of this blog. Can we single ladies survive another family holiday without these questions about ” the guy” in your life. It is so inappropriate. There are so many LGBT people these days, how do they know I didn’t go in a different direction altogether! Just saying! Another option is to stuff your mouth with food at the holiday gathering and say “my mouth is too full to talk!” Hope you enjoy your holiday nonetheless.

  3. Joyce says:

    This was really great advice and very timely…..

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