how can I avoid answering standard, polite questions?
September 20, 2013 1:39 PM Subscribe
I hate responding to small-talk interrogations. I'm a private person, and I just don't feel ok with giving relative strangers answers to personal-feeling questions, even though the questions themselves may be fairly innocuous. I also get confused and flustered when people ask me a lot of questions, and I will make mistakes, even though they are about me. How can I avoid answering these kinds of questions?
posted by windykites to Human Relations (26 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Part of the reason is that the answers to a lot of "basic" questions are complicated for me, and I hate getting into them. Part of it is that I just have talked about small-talk subjects (where were you born, what school did you go to, etc) enough times that I hate repeating it all again. And part of it is that I just don't feel like my info is peoples' business if I've met them only a few times, and it feels very invasive for me, or I feel like I'm on the spot. Plus, I'm kind of un-smart in some ways, and I just "loose" information sometimes, or get mixed up and confused.
An example: a client of mine asked me what street I lived on. Although this is a perfectly innocuous question, and one that doesn't seem private enough for me to say "I don't like to dscuss that", I felt really uncomfortable and I wished there was some way I could have avoided answering it. This was after she'd asked me a variety of other questions about what neighbourhood I was in, and I felt cornered into answering.
Another example is that people often ask about family. My family situation is complicated at best, and I often don't have straightforward, pleasant answers to give.
Another situation will come up where people will ask me questions to which I don't know the answer at the time because I wasn't expecting them, but feel I should, because they are questions about me. I then feel super flustered and upset, as though I'm being tested.
I know that, in theory, I can refuse to discuss anything I wish. But in real life, I need to be polite and engaged when talking with people in social and business settings. If I just refuse to talk about anything, I'll just seem standoffish. I wish I could just avoid talking about myself at all in those settings. Any ideas?