We recently assisted Cheat Sheet with the topic, “How to Answer These 6 Questions from your Nosy Coworkers“. If you read the article, make sure to click on “View All” for a better reading experience. The problem is that we previously noticed a similar question posed on a Facebook group for healthcare professionals, and most of the answers consisted of bullying and shaming the curious coworker into pensive submission. That’s kinda the opposite of what we’re all about here at BEHAVE Wellness.
That doesn’t mean it’s wrong to use the situation to get your jollies, as evidenced by Nick’s most cherished comeback when confronted with a bullying intruding coworker attempting unsettling questions: “I look really serious and say things like, ‘Cheetahs can only charge at 65 mph for about a quarter mile, but the key is in the flexibility of their spine.’ They get unsettled trying to find the passive or aggressive meaning behind my nonsensical statement and leave me alone. Forever.”
While we don’t typically advocate messing with people’s minds by discussing feline hunting attributes, this situation is usually one you’ll have to creatively handle yourself. Unless the perpetrator starts asking, “Why don’t you look as pretty as you used to,” most intentionally Nosy Nancy’s are crafty enough to avoid questions that could send them to HR or the boss’s office. Trying to be passive-aggressive won’t help, and “putting them in their place” only contributes to a toxic work environment. Another pitfall is trying too hard–remember that your coworker may be innocently curious. Is it really worth it to take focus away from work to craft perfect answers that won’t reveal personal information but serve to move them right along? Feel free to answer that question in the comments.
Oh, here are some other ideas if sounding like a Discovery Channel narrator somehow doesn’t get the job done. Excuse yourself. Give boring or vague answers. Ask, “Why do you want to know?” Respond with your own personal question–this serves to gauge the questioners intent. Respond with humor or be straight-forward about the fact that you don’t like being asked personal questions. As that last sentence highlights, we really believe in staying true to ourselves. Our most authentic self is the only sustainable one, so try to lead in a manner consistent with who you are, rather than striving to be plain spoken or assertive or funny and spontaneous.