Intrusive questions from nosy people

by Shweta Ramkumar

A question was asked today in one of the mental health pages I follow on Facebook

“What sort of questions do you hate being asked most?”

My response was :

What do you do ? (for work usually)

How much do you earn ?

Do you have kids ? Why not ?

Are you single ?

(When I was single) Why are you still single? Why aren’t you married yet ?

These types of questions are examples of INTRUSIVE questions that typically hit on information very close and personal to our lives. They are generally asked by people who are regarded to be “nosy” so essentially the type who get a lot of enjoyment about asking personal questions to others including total strangers, sharing gossip about them and have no concept of privacy or boundaries. I personally have zero tolerance for such people and their ‘nosiness’ so avoid being around them as much as possible.

While it may well be acceptable in a lot of cultures for people to openly ask these questions even if they barely know you (I come from one such culture), it doesn’t mean you have to answer or say anything that you don’t want to or makes you uncomfortable. Do not hesitate in being candid and truthful with people that you don’t feel comfortable sharing such personal information, and if you want to go a step further, tell them its none of their business. If they can be rude and disrespectful of your privacy and boundaries, they need to get a taste of their own medicine.

If you are a nosy person who enjoys asking others intrusive questions, please understand that you’re poking into aspects of their lives that may be personal, triggering, uncomfortable and awkward which will not leave them feeling good. Some personal topics to avoid when getting to know someone especially in a work-related or social setting :

-Their intimate sex life
-Their salary
-Their appearance or weight
-Their relationship status
-The number of children they have, and if they don’t have any, the reasons for it

There’s nothing wrong in showing curiosity towards another person’s life or choices, as long as its done within reason and within the boundaries of what they wish to and don’t want to share. Additionally, in a healthcare setting, some of this information will obviously have to be discussed, but do not prolong it to the point where a patient feels uncomfortable, dismissed and invalidated. Respect people’s choices on what they want and don’t want to discuss about, their boundaries and what they do with their lives.

Have you ever encountered a nosy person who asks intrusive questions before ? How did you handle it ?


Hi, I'm Shweta

I coach non-native English speaking healthcare professionals how to advance in their career and build better relationships with their patients and colleagues by expressing themselves more articulately and confidently in the English language.

I work closely with healthcare professionals who work with patients regularly. I help them improve their communication skills when interacting with patients and colleagues, teach them how to show up authentically, assertively and articulately in their field of work in order for them to ultimately gain credibility, validation and respect.

If you work in a clinical role in the healthcare industry and would like to learn more about how to better connect and communicate openly with your clients / patients, book a complimentary 30 minute discovery call with me to see how I can best support you.

Shweta Ramkumar - English Language Confidence Coach