To politely say “none of your business”, you can simply say that you are not comfortable discussing the topic, or that you never share anything about the topic. “None of your business” may sound rude, but don’t worry, there are many polite alternatives.
Ever have to deal with people who can’t help being nosy? Who tend to ask intrusive questions (questions they themselves wouldn’t normally like to answer)?
You are not alone. This is why I’ll share thirteen examples of how to answer intrusive questions while still being polite.
One thing: know that when people ask questions or make comments about sensitive or embarrassing topics, they may not do it on purpose.
Meaning: they may do it without thought, they may not realize that they’re not actually supposed to ask. They may not want to hurt you at all.
I say this because, as an introvert, I would get annoyed whenever someone asked personal questions. I thought they did it on purpose — to make me feel uncomfortable.
Now I realize that 99 percent of the time it’s just a way to try and connect with the other person. The question itself may be rude, but don’t automatically assume the person is being insensitive.
Don’t say “none of your business”…
It sounds a bit harsh, and may be interpreted the wrong way. Unless it’s said ironically, but even then it could sound rude.
What you want to do is communicate that you don’t want to answer the question, or talk about the issue, in a way that isn’t potentially offensive.
The easiest way? Simply state that you don’t want to talk about it. Seriously. It’s usually the best and easiest way.
It’s also honest, and it suggests that you don’t like to share things in general.
Either way, here’s the list — thirteen ways to politely say “none of your business”.
Have you ever come up with other phrases, or “strategies” not to answer nosy questions? Leave a reply at the end and share them with us!
How to politely say none of your business
1. “I don’t know”
This can be said ironically (if you do know), or reflect the truth (if you’re not 100 percent sure, or if you don’t have enough information yet).
Keep in mind, in this case it may be obvious that you’re trying to avoid the question. If it is, then smile or make exaggerated gestures to let them know your intention. You don’t want the other person to be puzzled and ask even more questions.
2. “I’d prefer not to talk about it”
Nice and simple. Very polite as well. You are basically stating your intention without being rude; you are being assertive without the risk of hurting the other person.
3. “I’m not comfortable sharing”
This implies that by answering the question you would expose yourself to unneeded criticism, or even risks in terms of reputation or safety (e.g. questions related to finances).
Or, you may say this to communicate that whatever is being asked belongs to your private sphere, and is likely to make you feel awkward or embarrassed if talked about publicly.
4. “I’m not supposed to tell”
A bit of a stronger, more direct answer. Best said when the topic that’s being discussed is likely to affect others as well (for example, a friend or partner).
This is likely to discourage the other person from asking again, or asking related questions, precisely because you may be breaking an unwritten rule, or a secret, if you do answer.
I’ve said this countless times whenever I didn’t want to answer intrusive questions. I would just smile, or roll my eyes, and say “maybe”. It’s clearly ironic, but never rude.
6. “What do you think?”
This could be interpreted as very rude or very polite, depending on the tone. But the sentence itself is definitely polite.
On one hand, it can be said sarcastically; on the other hand, it can suggest that the answer is a bit obvious, or that there is no need to answer it. Or, that the other person should think twice before asking anything similar.
7. “I never talk about that”
I like this one in particular because it implies that you wouldn’t talk about the matter with anyone. I mean, maybe with a close friend, or your partner, or a parent. But still.
If you say that you never talk about it, then whoever asked will realize that it’s not about them — they won’t take it personally.
8. “I’d rather not answer”
Less direct, but still effective. And very polite. You could then say that you tend to keep things to yourself, to reinforce the idea.
9. Use silence
Silence is powerful. If the question is clearly inappropriate, nosy, or intrusive, then you can simply refuse to answer, and say nothing at all; the other person will probably realize you don’t want to talk about the topic.
Just make sure you smile or at least use an appropriate facial expression. If you completely ignore the other person, then it won’t be very polite.
10. Be vague
Instead of saying “none of your business”, you can answer in a way that is so vague… that you actually don’t give away any information.
Or, you could simply answer as if you answered a slightly different question. Example: if someone asks where you were last night, you could say something like “I was bored and went for a ride”.
11. Ask the same question
Ask the question back. Literally ask the same question, or make the same comment. The other person may answer, or avoid the topic. In either case, it’s unlikely they’ll keep asking.
12. Make a comment
This is similar to being vague. Instead of answering the question, you could make a comment about the matter that’s being discussed. Whether it’s a relevant comment, or an obviously unrelated one.
13. Keep repeating the same thing
Let’s say you’ve used one of the phrases above, yet the other person just won’t get it. In this case, I’d probably pretend to be a robot and keep repeating the same thing over and over again. It can be very annoying, but still polite.
Your life is nobody else’s business
I assume you already know this, but for those who have a hard time being assertive, I’ll be very clear: you don’t need to answer anything related to your private life.
Unless you’re being interrogated by the police, or unless the other person is holding a gun. I’m joking, but you get the point.
Some people are used to sharing everything with everyone (when chatting, or on social media), but it’s not normal. It doesn’t have to be normal for you.
What you do, your views, your past, etc. — that’s nobody else’s business unless you choose to share these things.
If someone keeps asking the same question over and over again, especially if in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, they’re either really stupid or… nasty. That’s the polite word.
So don’t be afraid to keep things to yourself. It’s perfectly fine to do so, and if you answer politely, no one will have the right to criticize or attack you.
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