Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! In honor of this week’s holiday I’m offering up one last post devoted to dealing with relatives who really know how to push your buttons. We’ve already discussed overly talkative people and guests who don’t mind their own children. Now, it’s time to address those nosy family members and friends who can’t seem to mind their own business!
You know what I’m talking about. The person who always grills you about your love life, or wants to know how much you make, or seems to be digging for information so they can one-up you? It’s natural to be open with people you’re close to, but some people just don’t recognize the boundaries that social etiquette demands and keep prying and prying for juicy details.
Of course, if you’re uncomfortable sharing the most intimate details of your life (and who can blame you?), you can sidestep their questions without having to resort to a tense – and offensive – line like, “It’s none of your business” or “Please mind your own business.”
One way to do this is to try a joke. For instance, if Uncle Al is asking what your salary is, just say, “That’s between me and my accountant.” Or if Aunt Gladys wants to know why you’re still single, or why your other half is spending the holiday with his or her family, answer with a short, upbeat reply (like, “Oh, I’m too busy having fun to settle down” or “When I find a gal like you, I’ll stop looking”) and then turn the tables and ask her about her life. She’ll either get distracted and start chatting about herself, or realize that personal questions are intrusive.
You don’t have to be evasive or overly secretive. If you’re acting strangely, others will naturally sense that something is up and probably feel more determined to get to the bottom of it. Just have a boilerplate answer for what’s going on in your life, so that you’re being personable without revealing more than you like. For some of us, there is an area of our lives that may be a sore point. Maybe it’s a recent breakup or the fact that work isn’t going well or that you’ve been laid off. Don’t be rude to people, but if you feel like they won’t drop the subject, take a deep breath and say, “Sorry, do you mind if we talk about something else? It’s hard for me to talk about it.” Or you can say, “It’s Thanksgiving—I’m trying to focus on the positive things that I’m thankful for. Now, can I refill your coffee?”
I feel like that with social media technology like Facebook and Twitter, our world is obsessed with oversharing, but that doesn’t mean you have to! Also, if you are sitting with people who start gossiping about other guests, do your best to change the subject to something more positive. You don’t want to encourage that kind of behavior.
And with that, I wish you all a fabulous holiday!