Hello SOTGC community,
As many of you know, I am from the South. When asked a question, it is our social culture to politely answer. Manners are required in all circumstances.
However, when a coworker asks a prying or downright impolite question, it becomes a difficult situation! My friends and I recently thought of some prime examples, such as: “When are you having kids?” “When are you getting married?” Or: “When are you getting divorced?” Even still: “When are you having another child?” And: “Are you SURE you’re gay?” Additionally: “Do you go to church?” Also: “You’re voting for him/her?” Similarly: “Have you finished school?” And, one of my all-time favorites: “Are you going to breast feed?”
Often when these questions arise my normally confident and assured sense of self is shaken. I stumble over my words and can’t seem to ever come up with an answer that gives the right amount of vague information with a dash of “none of your business!” It’s hard because we like our coworkers and want to be kind, but they must understand that some subjects are deeply personal.
So today, I am outlining some suggestions to help you reply to these questions:
1. Answer back with a question. When someone asks you if you go to church, you could say, “Do you go to church?” This will give you just enough information to see where the conversation is going to take you. If they have asked you this question, more than likely they are trying to engage you in a religious conversation, so keep it focused on what they want to talk about … and let them talk if you don’t feel comfortable!
2. One simple word, then change the subject. My friend Mel is consistently asked by her clients if she is “SURE she is gay.” This question needs only one answer, a resounding yes using a gentle but firm tone of voice. She could then turn the conversation to something more appropriate so that she doesn’t have to engage in a very deep personal conversation.
3. Tell the truth. Regardless of the inappropriateness of the question, it is still important to be your authentic self and tell the truth. If you are asked if you are voting for a certain political candidate at work, it’s not prudent to lie to avoid confrontation. Stand up for what you believe in, state the candidate you are voting for and why and then move on.
Have you been asked an uncomfortable or inappropriate question at work lately? How did you respond? Continue the conversation with me on Twitter @ryangreenonline and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100007156953049