I need some advice on how to respond to nosy questions asked by my mostly male co-workers. I work in a scenic shop at Seaworld and the backgrounds of our small group is primarily construction. Because we work in a theme park, there are strict rules about behavior but it doesn't stop these guys from being nosy. We have worked together for many years and unfortunately, we know too much about each other.
I took a three month leave of absence from work due to anxiety and panic attacks and am returning next week. I know I will be asked a million questions and honestly, I don't want to fall back into that same old situation where my co-workers think it's okay to know my personal business. In the past, I shared my life and business with them and now I don't want to. I don't want to come across as a you-know-what, I just don't know how to tactifully and politely tell them it's none of thier business!
Most of the people in our shop love to gossip and spread rumors and back stab each other so the less they know about me, the better. If anyone has been in this situation before or knows of something I could say to squash nosy questions, I would love to hear from you. Thank you!
Sandie from Orlando, Florida
There's the aggressive approach of returning a nosy question with the question, "Why do you want to know?" Then there's a more subtle (?) approach that a co-worker of mine uses. She will talk at great length about a relative or co-worker that has so many nosy qualities and she will describe outrageous nosy behavior with great expressiveness. Sometimes poeple see them selves in a performance like this and it nips the unwanted behavior in the bud. Hope this helps. (01/11/2006)
By Laura Conklin
When your co-workers ask you where you have been, turn the question back to them, "why, what have you heard?" Smile and have a good sense of humor when dealing with them. When they respond with whatever rumor they heard, just laugh and say, "that's the best you guys could come up with? You really need to work on those creativity skills!" And, just walk away shaking your head and laughing. (01/11/2006)
You could say, "If I thought it was your business, I would tell you." Works for me most times. Sometimes you just have to be plain old blunt. (01/11/2006)
Laura's suggestion will probably work the best, but for the nosy parkers for whom it doesn't work, how about a white lie telling them that as part of your recovery, you've been told to not dwell on and discuss the past but to optimistically look ahead to the future? Then you could cheerfully start talking about plans for your next vacation or even just the next weekend, or heck, even what kind of car you'd like to get next time you buy a vehicle or maybe a new movie coming out that you'd like to see.
By Lynn Marler
I was thinking about, just saying something about "I wasn't feeling well, but I'm better now." This way, you're not giving them any info. If they gossip and all afterwards, I'd not let it bother me. You'll be the stronger person for it. Best of Luck! (01/11/2006)
I've made jokes about similar things.. You could say you ran away and married a millionaire.. lol (Doesn't matter if you are already married.... Just say you're having an affair with a millionaire and don't like your spouse know...
You could reply to a person's question that was being nosy like this:
"If you will forgive me for not answering, I will forgive you for asking!"
Wow! You guys have some great ideas for me! Thank you very much for responding. I really appreciate it. I tell you the truth, I would love to just look at them and tell them to mind thier own damned business but I have to work with these people every single day. It's funny what Paula and Laura said. I have actually said that in the past and I said it because this nosiness goes on all the time.
Awhile back I was thinking about asking them "Why? What have you heard?" because I figure there IS some kind of rumor going around as usual.
For nosy co workers.
If they ask why, how come or just want to know.
Tell them you needed to pay off some big bills ..
And you had a sure way of doing it & it was fun too.
Only you will know the truth beside your girl friends
Have fun with it... (01/11/2006)
I would smile playfully and say :"Why, I've been right here, all the time. I was trying to be invisable. Did it work?" (01/11/2006)
You were on a vacation from work, got lots of rest, and wish you were old enough to retire. :o)
Then ask what they doing while you were away. People love talking about themselves.
Love & Prayers,
By Linda Howe
How about - "If you'll tell me why you NEED to know, I'll tell you what you SHOULD know!"? (01/11/2006)
By Pat Giles
I usually ask "why", allow them to answer, then, while turning my back, I say, "Oh" and drop it. Very seldom am I asked twice. (01/12/2006)
A conversation has to be two way. If you don't answer, then the conversation stops.
When they ask where you have been, just say "I took some personal time off". If they persist by asking if you are ok, just say "great". Anything that pertains to your time off or your condition, answer in short, uninforming answers. They may just stand there waiting for you to continue talking, but don't unless it's about something else. You may also have those that have direct questions, just say the same thing, "I took some personal time off". Refuse to go any futher. (01/12/2006)
Ask the nosy one ...
"My goodness, why would that be of interest to you?"
Then change the subject and ask them a question OR smile and walk away saying you have to get something done.
You probably would like to say, "None of your business", but that is a bit harsh since you have to work with them!
Remember, answer a question with a question!
As your co-workers are mostly men could you pretend to have had a "female" illness? That might frighten them off from asking for more details (01/12/2006)
I worked in a job where everyone knew way too much about everyone else. It was like one big family with the same issues that all families have such as pettiness and gossip. It had its good points too. I just did alot of smiling, nodding and walking away. My mom had worked at the same job for 9 years before I started there so everyone knew stuff about me I would rather they didnt. I just made sure that when I worked there they didnt find out anymore than I wanted them too. I wasnt rude to them because I cared about most of these people and had to see them all every day, but I just didnt participate when the gossip started flying. (01/12/2006)
I just discovered a book in Target today called, "Mean girls grown up" by Cheryl Dellasega. I bought it on Amazon.com, used, for a fraction of the price. Along with that book I also bought other books on how to deal with 'Queen Bees' and other types of women. Slowpoke: these books might help you deal with the women in your work place.
I'm going to read these books to learn how to deal with my boss who is a woman. Not only is she a female, she's in her thirties and this is her one and only job in her entire life AND, she moved up the corporate ladder by backstabbing two managers she helped get fired after they had put in twenty years plus with the company. She was a secretary for these guys and when she got all the 'dirt'on these two, she called them to a meeting and told them in front of a lot of other people that she was now THIER boss and by the way...as Donald Trump would say..."YOU'RE FIRED!!!".
She could be a lovely person if she weren't so full of herself but she has proven over the years that she is spiteful, vengeful, nasty and shows blatant favoritisms. I can't wait to turn in my name tag!!!!!!
Now if I could only find a book on how to deal with the men I work with!!! Oh, by the way, those two guys that were fired had it coming. They were running their own business using company supplies and money. No tears were shed for them by anyone. (01/13/2006)
You owe these people nothing. They are just people at work. I understand not being 'harsh' or a 'You Know What'.. Here is what I would do..When asked the questions of why, who, when...say 'Thank you for your concern, but I'd rather not discuss my private life anymore.' I mean, your private life is just that. Private. If it isn't necessary to tell them (like being diabetic, epileptic or something) then they need not know. Stand up for yourself. How do you think they'd react if you asked them an extremely personal question..Just be kind, but direct, look them in the eye, don't back down. A good ten second stare does wonders. Good luck. They are not paying your bills, so you owe them no explanation beyond a short, direct 'I'd rather not discuss it.' (01/13/2006)
Chances are, they are already talking......I like the "I wanted to retire, but decided it wasn't for me." Leave it at that, and move on. They say women are nosy, but some men are almost as bad! Good Luck and welcome back! (01/16/2006)
this is to everyone who offered your wonderful advise on how to deal with nosy co-workers. I returned to work last week with much anxiety only to be welcomed back with hugs and very few questions. While I was away, our shop did some changing and we now have a new manager who vows to put an end to the back biting, back stabbing, rumors and gossip and employees who aren't being held accountable for their behaviors. She really isn't new to the company but she's new to our shop.
I really appreciate your help. I love this site!!!! (01/21/2006)
I have this co-worker that is extremely nosy, always looking for something to gossip about. In my mind I tell her that I don't appreciate her asking for asking questions that are not related to work, and that she can consider all topics not related to work as off limits.
The other option is to have my boss in the same room and ask her to tell my boss why she is asking personal questions about my medical situation, and why she is making claims that I am not really hurt and I am just milking my situation to get out of work. I am that angry. Is this too extreme? (11/04/2007)
I had the same problem at work and it got so bad that people interfered in my personal life, probably for personal gain. I reported the matter to the Employee Assistance Programme and they informed that I am under no obligation to inform on any personal matters. I could also start a grievance procedure against these colleagues. I only had to say: It's got nothing to do with you! two or three times, and that was the end of these Snoopy Dogs! (11/04/2007)
How about saying to the nosey person "enough about me, let's hear your own gossip or skeletons" and see how fast they disappear. (11/15/2007)
Start being a little more anti-social and start keeping your business out of the work place. If a nosy question is asked, turn around and repeat what they have said, then just give them a logical answer, which mean what most people would say, but not what they wanted to hear. (12/07/2007)
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If anyone, including a boss or family member, is asking you questions about your health or someone else's health simply politely point out to them that they are asking you to violate state and federal HIPPA laws which carry fines from $100 to $50,000 and from 1 year to 10 years. If it happens at work and reminding them about HIPPA does not work and they do it again then report them to HR and let HR know that yo are aware that an employee is asking you to violate HIPPA laws.
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