How to Deal with Nosey People

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They’re everywhere. Family, friends and especially colleagues. I work in a pretty busy city, and in a very open office. Conversation flows from day to day, and as colleagues get to know each other, they begin to build an interest in the lives of others and that interest turns into a source for entertainment. Some people are naturally nosey, they can’t help but feel the need to know anything and everything. On the other hand, some people are obnoxiously nosey, and drive me absolutely crazy.

Look busy
One of my top tips would be to avoid the conversation in the first place. I’m a terrible liar so will always struggle to make something up on the spot. When I see the office gossip coming, my first instinct is to keep my head down and avoid eye contact. This dismisses any opportunity a nosey person could take and they’ll dig elsewhere.
Bore them to tears
I may not be a skilled liar, but I can sure make something sound really dull. When a nosey person is looking for a dramatic story, full of plot twists and fallouts, try making it sound as boring as possible. Drag out the story if necessary. Include all the tiny details such as the time, the weather forecast for the event and each step of the day. Eventually, the nosey human will get bored and lose interest.
Change the subject
I find changing the subject a really effective method of avoiding a subject not up for discussion. When something pops up that’s a little too uncomfortable or a nosy person starts digging, change the subject to something different and thought-provoking. This doesn’t mean something on the other end of the conversation spectrum, but another subject that will distract the nosy person from asking their original question.
State your discomfort
Sometimes, honesty is the best policy. If a nosey person is also a nice person, they may back off once they realise they’ve entered delicate territory. In my experience, giving a harsh “non of your business” is beneficial for no one. But just stating the boundaries has worked in the past.
Hide personal possessions
Nosey people can create conversation based on observation. Whether it’s a sneaky look at a text message or an emotional and meaningful photo frame. When I see the office gossip en route to my desk, I usually hide or disguise any item that would trigger a conversation I’m not ready to have. If a nosey person doesn’t see anything to comment on, it may never happen in the first place.
Flip the question
An impressive technique. If a really personal or uncomfortable question is being asked, completely flip the question on the questioner. It not only gives them something to think about, but may also give them a taste of their own medicine. Some nosey people really don’t like to be interrogated, and may relax their efforts if they know how it feels.

Let me know what your tips are!

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