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I don’t know about you but I’m a people person. I love visiting with family members during holiday gatherings and even meeting new people at events.
While it can be great to catch up with those we haven’t seen in awhile, I know that sometimes, that can be a little bit awkward when someone brings up those questions that make us feel totally judged or uncomfortable.
“So, have you moved out of your mom and dad’s house yet?”
Or, “Have you found a job or are you still nannying?”
Or, “When are you having kids?”
Let’s be honest. These questions are usually well meaning, in that people are probably not trying to offend us or make us uncomfortable but it CAN put us on defense a bit – especially if we don’t feel like we have an acceptable or impressive answer to respond with.
So, what should you do? How do you deal with questions that feel like they impose unwanted opinions on you? How do you respond confidently, respectfully, and kindly?
I have three tips for you when you are faced with a situation like this so you can respond effectively rather than react emotionally:
Tip 1. Reverse the Conversation to be About Them
If they say something like, “You should be moved out of your parents by now, don’t you think? When do you plan to move out?”
You can respond with a light-hearted chuckle and say, “Don’t worry, I don’t plan on staying forever.”
Then, you can reverse the conversation to be about them in a creative way.
You could add and change the focus of the conversation by saying something like, “Hey, speaking of living situations, I heard you just moved. How’s that going? How do you like the area?”
People love to talk about themselves. Asking about them takes the focus off of what they’re highlighting in your life that you don’t feel comfortable discussing (or just don’t have an answer to) and makes them the center of the conversation.
Tip 2. Don’t Over-Explain It but Own It
When people randomly ask why I haven’t had kids yet, sometimes I’m tempted to go into all the details as to why my cycle has been wonky due to all our travel and so we haven’t been ablet o really try for that up until very recently and these things take time and it’s not like I can just wish upon a star and boom be preggo.
I could tell them why it’s hurtful for them to ask that way because it subtly insinuates that I don’t want children or am actively avoiding them when that’s not the case at all.
I could explain that we’re still so young and though we’re open to children, we’re trying not to feel the pressure or to force it, either.
But most of the time I don’t feel like discussing the personal biological details of my life with someone who only intends to make small talk over the dinner table sooo I usually say something lighthearted like, “Well, whenever God decides it’s time! We’re open and excited for that day but in the meantime, we’re really remembering to cherish this time in our lives together.”
If something like this happens to you, you can smile and say, it’s a long story but this is really just what’s best for me right now. Or, “to be honest? I’m not sure, but I’m really happy and thriving where I am. Appreciate you asking!” Or, Thanks for asking, “it’s just a transitional season. I’m sure you know what that’s like!”
You can be casual about this. You don’t owe anyone an explanation, especially those you don’t know very well.
Tip 3. Try Not to Be Offended
As uncomfortable, or even rude, as some of these types of questions or comments that basically highlight someone’s unwanted opinion are, the best thing I can say is try not to be offended.
MOST people are not trying to offend you, sis. That doesn’t make their seemingly nosiness or prying totally okay BUT give them some grace and try not to let it get to you.
They don’t know your life, they don’t know the details, and if you know them well enough or they’re a good friend, they either do know or they’re asking because they genuinely care. If you don’t know them well enough and they’re just making comments or trying to make small talk, they’re probably simply trying to connect, or they just don’t have the best people skills.
And that’s okay. No one is perfect. You don’t owe anyone an explanation but you also don’t need to immediately become offended.
Take a breath. Remember the bigger picture. And decide how much weight someone’s opinion – welcomed or not – should have over your life.
My guess? Unless it’s a spouse, really close relative like your mom, or your best friend, I’d say not very much.
Let that one roll off your shoulders, enjoy your holiday season, and remember that whatever you’re going through and regardless of what people think you should do… you’re in the place you are for a purpose. And your job is not to explain it. Your job is to show up and own it.
Now, I want to hear from you!
How do YOU respond to questions or comments like this? Tell me in the comments below!
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I always get the question, “When are you getting married?” My boyfriend and I are not even engaged yet! But my co-workers and family have asked that question multiple times. It really feels like a cut to the heart.
Truth is: we have things we both are working on emotionally that need to be addressed before getting engaged.
I usually try to brush it off with one of those easy remarks you were talking about. Laughing it off with,”It’s not my decision. Haha.” or even “Whenever God decides it’s time.” But honestly it does hurt when they ask those harmless questions. For now, I continue to answer with those easy remarks and a smile across my face. And internally I am praying for those moments to hurt a little less.