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Tired Of Answering Questions You Don't Want To?

Here are eight tips to finesse your way through conversations

BY Agnes Amondi

Aug 10, 2021, 12:29 PM

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We’ve all been there. Being annoyed by someone who won’t stop asking unwanted questions. Even more irritating is that some people, for whatever reason, are unable or perhaps unwilling to read between the lines and figure out that you are not interested in engaging.

Why would you not want to answer a question? Well, you might not genuinely have an answer to it or it could be a touchy subject that you don’t want to talk about.

Some people get pissed and blow it up with a needless quarrel, or even a fight. This is just the wrong way of dealing with the issue. Realize or perhaps assume that the person asking may just be doing it out of sheer curiosity. They may not have any malicious intentions. 

So how do you handle questions that you don’t want to answer? Here’s how.

Use Humor

Humour is a very good way of giving a non-answer. But this I must say is probably situational. If you are in a job interview for example and they ask an intrusive question, you want to come across in a positive and professional manner so you might bridge the question. We’ll take a look at this later.

But say it’s one of your friends or even a colleague and they are intrusive - “so how much money do you make?” You can be witty and throw a “not enough” or “enough for me to get to work and back home”. They’ll know that they are out of line.

Bridge The Question

This is a very good way of changing the course of a conversation and moving it forward to your comfort areas. This happens all the time in interviews with politicians, athletes and generally people who find themselves on the hot seat.

But what if that's you and you haven't had time to prepare a response?

So a colleague asks you about a fellow workmate and you want as much as possible to avoid workplace gossip. "What do you think about that confrontation Mary had with John?" Say this "I'm not sure about that but what I can say is..." move on to another topic. 

Ignore

Yes! I said to ignore. Completely. Just pretend that you didn’t hear the question and continue with what you were doing. Better yet, carry on with the conversation at hand prior to the question. The great thing about this is that it will just pass. No one will pay attention. And you will have saved yourself from an awkward situation.

Redirect The Question

Great tactic. Often, people who ask unwanted questions are never prepared for a redirection. All they are focusing on is getting that particular info from you. So if they come with a “how much money do you make?” and you throw it back “So how much do you make? And not just that but you also make them explain why they want this information “is this significant to you in a particular way?” Man, you’ll have pinned them down. Try it.

Be Ambiguous

Everyone knows how to do this. Basically, not tying yourself with a response that could lead to a follow up thus completely suffocating the asker from pushing the question. “Why haven’t you achieved XYZ?” And you give them a “who knows?” They can’t go anywhere with that and that’s exactly what you are aiming for.

Call Out The Asker

OK, go slow on this one. It’s not a call for you to character assassinate the person. You just want to send a subtle message that they are being too nosy. Keep it light and say it in a joking way like “Ha! Your curiosity is quite something, isn’t it?” They'll know they are pushing the boundary too far.

Find A Distraction

Who wants to be in a situation where they are chewing their tongue over a question they’d rather not have? No one. So fill the otherwise awkward moment with a “Who wants to get out of this place…” or “Were you not heading for the door?”

Answer Your Own Question

Absolutely. Just take the bits and parts that you need, add your own words, sometimes you can even reframe the whole question and give them a response to what you think they should get as opposed to what they actually want to get. So it can be something like this: “Why don’t you drink?” and you go with: “I think you're interested in my eating habits so here's what I take and don't take.” Something to that effect.

This is by no means an exhaustive list but start finessing your way through awkward conversations. Best of luck!