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How to Answer Rude Questions

Respond to Nosy People With Grace

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We've all been asked questions that are no one else's business. Although everyone slips up every now and then, some people seem to have a knack for always asking the rudest questions they can think of.

For times that you find yourself in the awkward position of being interrogated by a rude person, you need to arm yourself with some answers that will let him or her know that you consider the questions rude. There are several ways to handle these people: with the answer they are looking for, with a quippy comeback, or with a way of letting them know that you consider them boorish for asking such a question.

Certain rude questions tend to come up more frequently than others. Before you walk out the door, make the decision to maintain good manners and not be that nosy person. If you are on the receiving end, be prepared with answers that let the other person know what you think of his or her nosiness with as much poise as you can manage.

If you have children, start early and teach them questions not to ask. Most kids are naturally inquisitive, so direct them to more appropriate conversation.

1. How much money do you make?

man and woman talking on airplane
Compassionate Eye Foundation/Justin Pumfrey/Digital Vision/Getty Images

This question about money is quite common, even though it is considered rude and nosy to ask. You have several options on how to deal with it. Your answer will be different if the person asking is a coworker than if the question is coming from someone sitting next to you on an airplane.

The simplest answer is to say that you never discuss money with anyone but your spouse. Most people will accept that, but others who are extremely rude might press or insult you to get their answer. Don’t fall for it.

Another thing you might do is answer with a quippy, “Enough to pay my bills and have a little fun,” or “Not nearly enough to do everything I’d like to do.”

2. Are you still single?

Many single men and women in their late twenties and early thirties have heard this one. It’s a question generally asked by a well-meaning relative or close friend who wants you to be happy. However, hearing it over and over will make you anything but happy.

If you are still single, tell the person that you haven’t found someone you want to spend your life with, but if you ever do, you’ll get the word out to everyone who needs to know.

3. Have you gained (or lost) weight?

If the person comes out and asks, your weight change is probably obvious, and chances are you have put on (or lost) a few pounds or more. When someone comes right out and makes this terribly insensitive remark, smile and say, “I’m feeling wonderful. How about you?” That should get the point across that you don’t want to honor the rude question with an answer.

4. How much did you pay for that house?

Here is another money question that doesn’t deserve an answer. However, being the polite person you are, you might answer with something like, “I paid the going market value for houses in the neighborhood. It’s a very comfortable house that felt like home the minute I walked in the door.” Quickly change the subject to let the person know you are finished discussing house prices. If he or she still wants to know, the sale of a house is public record, and it can be found later on the Internet.

5. When is your baby due?

If you are pregnant, chances are you have announced it to everyone you want to know. Yet, there are times when women gain weight or wear certain outfits that make them appear pregnant when they haven’t gained an ounce.

You have several ways to respond to this rude question. You can say you’re not pregnant and let the person cower in awkwardness and embarrassment (considering, of course, the person is decent enough to be embarrassed), or you may give a date a few years away. When the rude person appears confused, say, “Bill and I thought we’d wait a couple of years before starting a family.” And then don’t wear that outfit again.

6. When do you plan to start a family?

Many newlyweds get asked this question. If a close friend or relative asks, you might want to give an honest answer. However, if the questioner is just a nosy busybody, say that the minute you said your wedding vows, you considered yourselves a family.

7. More rude questions

There is such an abundance of rude questions – and people who ask them – that you could spend all day thinking of answers and quips. Instead of wasting your valuable time, have a few standard replies that work in a variety of situations.

Here are some examples of how to respond:

  • ”Why would you ask such a rude question?”
  • ”I have a policy not to discuss that topic with anyone it doesn’t concern.”
  • Pause, smile, and say, “Did you really just ask me that?”
  • ”I’m not even touching that topic. Let’s talk about something else.
  • ”Do you realize how rude that question is?”
  • Take a step back to gain some personal space and say, ”I’m not going to answer that question.”
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