So we are coming up to the end of the year and while most of you may be happy to be spending time with your loved ones, a big group of you out there, perhaps more so in Asia, may be dreading questions in family gatherings or annual company dinners. They range from "When are you going to get that promotion at your job?" or "Are you going to settle down next year?" to a particularly tough one for the ladies "When are you going to have kids??". At any one time and especially around this time of the year, you’ve probably been in situations where someone posed a question that caught you off-guard. Maybe you actually preferred not to answer some of these distressing questions but didn’t want to be rude yet you are stuck not knowing what to say to or how to get out of it without making either of you lose face.
When you are asked an uncomfortable question, remember that you have a right to your feelings. Your feelings are as important as the person's asking the question.
Consider the 5 ways below for an effective response which allows you to respond with dignity depending on your communication style:
✴ Make eye contact. Subtly show your discomfort. Say to the person, "I don't know what to say." This statement puts the onus of the conversation on the other person.
✴ Be honest about your feelings. Tell the person openly, "I'm not comfortable talking about that right now." Typically, the other person will retreat. If he/she insists in getting an answer then you could repeat your words until they stop asking.
✴ Change/end the subject politely. Say something like, "My husband/colleague/uncle told me that last month you took a trip to Honduras. That sounds so exciting! How did you find it?" OR excuse yourself and leave the conversation quietly.
✴ Ignore this question but only this question. Simply not answering can be the most dynamic way to send the message that you don't wish to respond. Continue to converse on other topics.
✴ Be firm and nip the subject matter in the bud. Use a neutral, non confrontational nor sarcastic tone of voice to say something like, "I can't imagine why you would ask me a question like that."
You do not need to let others make you feel uncomfortable! Practice these responses with your trusted partners or friends so they roll off your tongue with ease. Then, when next time someone asks you a question which feels inappropriate to you, choose whichever option seems to best fit your situation. Try them all – you’ll feel like you can face these awkward and potentially embarrassing questions just like a pro!
Can you think of any other helpful ideas? Share them below with our fellow LinkedIn members, leave your comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org