How to Ignore Nosy People

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Few things are as annoying -- and as difficult to deal with -- as someone who asks nosy, prying questions. Some people just seem to think it is their right to ask questions about your personal life, your finances or your work. Not only that, but these people often seem to think you are somehow obliged to tell them what they want to know. The person might be a neighbor, a coworker or a friend. She can be well meaning, neutral or deeply competitive. Whoever she is, you need strategies for getting around her. You may have to hurt her feelings, but protecting your privacy is more important.

Deflect the nosy person with the use of jokes, sarcasm or other comments to keep from answering the question. Since the nosy person is being rude by asking the question, you don't necessarily have to be nice. However, most people will be hurt if they are deflected rudely, so take that into consideration.

Turn away from the person and focus on something else. Give one-word answers. In other words, ignore him. Do not engage him in conversation, and hopefully, this will get him to stop his line of questioning.

Redirect the person by asking her questions in response, such as why she wants to know or needs to know. Simply state that you are taking care of the situation, and that should be good enough information for her to get by.

Use direct, but firm comments to tell the person you are not interested in answering the question. If the person cannot take the hint, directly addressing the situation may be your only option. State that you are uncomfortable talking about the subject and would prefer it if he would let the matter drop.

Remove yourself from the situation. Do not get into a long conversation with the nosy person. State how you feel about having the conversation, how you would prefer if she didn't ask any more questions and then walk away. Do not try to salvage the conversation. Let her think about what you said and how her actions have hurt you.