Etiquette Hell

Etiquette School is in session! => "Have you tried the bean dip?" => Topic started by: jazzbeat on November 19, 2011, 05:19:31 PM

Title: Dealing with people who have allergies to bean dip
Post by: jazzbeat on November 19, 2011, 05:19:31 PM
I'm enjoying reading these posts and am digesting a lot.  What a terrific group!

What flusters me endlessly is when people respond indignantly with an attitude that I really owe an answer.  I'm over 35 and for some reason, a lot of people ask my age in social situations.  Sometimes I smile and say, "I'm over 21 if you were going to offer me a glass of wine" (I'm a married female and only say this to other females), which produces a chuckle and then a response like, "No, really, I'm serious."  One time I just said, "It doesn't matter," only to be told that I must be very sensitive about my age or must be going through "the change."  At that point, I can never say anything that won't get me in a lot of trouble.

Social bullies is really what those people are, and my problem is that, due to professional reasons, I really can't afford to offend them.

What do I say to someone who ignores all communication that I simply don't want to answer the question?  I'm often made to feel like I'm hiding something if I don't reply with a direct answer.  I become so embarrassed and frustrated that I fail to produce any intelligent response.

Title: Re: Dealing with people who have allergies to bean dip
Post by: Black Delphinium on November 19, 2011, 05:26:55 PM
"A lady never tells."  ;)

I hate pushy people, so I try to just grin and bear it.
Title: Re: Dealing with people who have allergies to bean dip
Post by: Mental Magpie on November 19, 2011, 06:00:29 PM
"A lady never tells."  ;)

I hate pushy people, so I try to just grin and bear it.

POD.

I would have been tempted to respond to "you must be sensitive about your age" with "The reason why I don't want to tell doesn't matter either." 
Title: Re: Dealing with people who have allergies to bean dip
Post by: splifficated on November 19, 2011, 06:06:19 PM
I've had this happen just this week. Someone at work asked my birthdate, and I told him "I don't give out my birthdate", with a smile and a regretful expression. 

If asked my age, I say "I don't like to give my age".  Also with a smile.

There's also, "that's a personal question" if I feel they're crossing a boundary.

I just repeat these in a friendly tone and keep introducing a subject change. Sometime repetition is the only thing that works.  Or leaving. Or I stop responding verbally and just smile and shake my head.
Title: Re: Dealing with people who have allergies to bean dip
Post by: VorFemme on November 19, 2011, 06:14:49 PM
My mother will tell her real age and birthdate to anyone who asks............on her birthday............which is April 1 (April Fools' Day, for those NOT from the USA or other countries with the same tradition).

For some reason, no one believes her on April Fools' Day............or remembers it a few weeks or months later.
Title: Re: Dealing with people who have allergies to bean dip
Post by: kansha on November 19, 2011, 06:40:55 PM
how about "why do you want to know?" ?
Title: Re: Dealing with people who have allergies to bean dip
Post by: jazzbeat on November 19, 2011, 07:08:10 PM
how about "why do you want to know?" ?

The answer is almost always, "I'm just curious."  If I reply, "I see," you'd think that would end it, but it doesn't, and the person says, "So, you must be sensitive about the issue," or "So........" or something else that seems to put the onus on me.  I'm lousy at offering bean dip.
Title: Re: Dealing with people who have allergies to bean dip
Post by: Iris on November 19, 2011, 08:42:39 PM
Sometimes I adopt the really really vacant aka toddler approach. The trick is to keep an open, pleasant and slightly absent countenance at all times and just keep on turning it back on the person.

"How old are you"
"I'm over 21 if you are going to offer me a glass of wine"
"No, seriously, how old are you?"
"Why would you want to know that"
"I'm curious"
"I see"
"So - how old are you? You must be sensitive about your age"
"Not at all. Why would you think that?"
"Well you won't tell me!"
"Mmm-hmmm. Are you always this interested in people's ages?"

If you do it right it makes people stabby but conflicted because you're being SO pleasant. It's quite fun to watch  >:D Of course I only use this approach for the terminally, annoyingly nosy.
Title: Re: Dealing with people who have allergies to bean dip
Post by: wonderfullyanonymous on November 20, 2011, 12:50:24 PM
"How old are you"
"I'm over 21 if you are going to offer me a glass of wine"
"No, seriously, how old are you?"
"Why would you want to know that"
"I'm curious"
"I see"
"So - how old are you? You must be sensitive about your age."
"How much do you weigh?"
"Well that's rude, why do you want to know that?"
"Well you must be sensitive about your weight?"
"Well, I'm not telling you that."
"Thank you." walk away
Title: Re: Dealing with people who have allergies to bean dip
Post by: #borecore on November 20, 2011, 01:05:14 PM
Isn't the answer to "You must be sensitive about your age?" "Yes"? Either "Yes, thanks for understanding" or "Yes, so let's move on."

I mean, it might be a different take on the word sensitive, but that's exactly how I'd describe this attitude toward such an innocuous question, unless I'm missing something (and I might well be) -- either sensitive to having people know your age or sensitive to sharing something you view (but obviously not everyone views) as private.
Title: Re: Dealing with people who have allergies to bean dip
Post by: wendelenn on November 20, 2011, 02:58:19 PM
Isn't the answer to "You must be sensitive about your age?" "Yes"? Either "Yes, thanks for understanding" or "Yes, so let's move on."

I mean, it might be a different take on the word sensitive, but that's exactly how I'd describe this attitude toward such an innocuous question, unless I'm missing something (and I might well be) -- either sensitive to having people know your age or sensitive to sharing something you view (but obviously not everyone views) as private.

"Sensitive"  has a negative connotation that is uncalled for in this context. The question is extremely nosy and far from innocuous--no one has any business asking or knowing someone else's age unless the other person chooses to share it.
Title: Re: Dealing with people who have allergies to bean dip
Post by: camlan on November 20, 2011, 03:10:23 PM
You call these social situations, but then you mention that for professional reasons, you feel compelled to answer. So are these purely social situations, or are they professional situations masquerading as social situations? I can see why, for several different reasons, someone might want to keep their age private in a professional setting.

My standard replies are, depending on the situation and who is asking, "Old enough to know better, young enough to enjoy it anyway." Or "Why do you ask?"

Can you figure out why these people are so fixated on your age? Are they going around asking everyone how old they are, or just you? It just seems odd that relative strangers, as these people appear to be, are so concerned with how old you are.
Title: Re: Dealing with people who have allergies to bean dip
Post by: #borecore on November 20, 2011, 03:15:01 PM
I think "sensitive" can mean a range of things to different people. And I think this question can be innocuous if it's asked between two people who don't care about sharing that sort of thing (for instance, me -- I don't think it's personal at all); the only way to know someone will find it rude is to ask and then be rebuffed or shut down.

I think jumping to the conclusion that it's being asked in order to be rude or because the asker is careless when so many people aren't bothered by it is overly harsh -- and people will take no for an answer, eventually.

Then again, I don't think the OP should feel bad for brushing people off or shutting them down when they ask ANY question she's uncomfortable with answering, either. If bean dip doesn't work, saying, "Please stop asking me that" is perfectly fine, in my book. Even in a professional situation.
Title: Re: Dealing with people who have allergies to bean dip
Post by: MommyPenguin on November 20, 2011, 05:37:24 PM
You need to look at the children's book "Ella Enchanted."  The prince keeps asking her if she's old enough to marry.  She answers him with various things like, "Today I feel far too old.  I was listening to an old woman's long rambling stories and I think I aged at least a dozen years in an afternoon."  "Today I felt young, when I realized that I am dwarfed by the 11-year-old daughter of an acquaintance!"  You could use the same idea.  "I'm 21, if you're offering a drink!"  "I sure feel 13 today, I can't believe I did <silly thing>."  "I think I'm a teenager again, I feel like I have so much energy!  Or maybe it's just the caffeine speaking."  "Ugh, I think I'm about 80 after I spent all day on those TPS reports.  Those are decades--I mean hours--of my life I'll never get back."  Etc.  Make it into a joke?
Title: Re: Dealing with people who have allergies to bean dip
Post by: BeagleMommy on November 21, 2011, 12:28:44 PM
Lately, I've been saying "Older than Justin Bieber, but younger than the Rolling Stones".  Unless I'm purchasing alcohol, filling out medical information or being stopped by the police I don't feel the need to give my ages to strangers.
Title: Re: Dealing with people who have allergies to bean dip
Post by: whiskeytangofoxtrot on November 21, 2011, 12:35:30 PM
"Old enough to know better; young enough to do it anyway. The rest is just scorekeeping!"
Title: Re: Dealing with people who have allergies to bean dip
Post by: Ruelz on November 21, 2011, 12:42:00 PM
My mother will tell her real age and birthdate to anyone who asks............on her birthday............which is April 1 (April Fools' Day, for those NOT from the USA or other countries with the same tradition).

For some reason, no one believes her on April Fools' Day............or remembers it a few weeks or months later.

My daughter was born on April's Fool Day too...
Title: Re: Dealing with people who have allergies to bean dip
Post by: Outdoor Girl on November 21, 2011, 12:57:07 PM
A friend of mine would ask back, 'How old do you think I am?'  If they responded with a number less than her age, she would say, 'OK'.  And most of the time, especially guys, would guess lower.
Title: Re: Dealing with people who have allergies to bean dip
Post by: jazzbeat on November 22, 2011, 12:18:38 AM
First, thank you for all the replies.

The question is extremely nosy and far from innocuous--no one has any business asking or knowing someone else's age unless the other person chooses to share it.

Thank you, and I think that's at the root of the problem.  We're all curious about things that are none of our business (Is that her real hair?).  However, we're becoming so casual sometimes that we forget that some questions really are rude.  Another problem is that we tend to forget that others may not feel as comfortable as we do answering private questions.  (If I don't mind telling others, why should anyone else mind?)
Title: Re: Dealing with people who have allergies to bean dip
Post by: aiki on November 23, 2011, 08:33:44 PM
What do I say to someone who ignores all communication that I simply don't want to answer the question?  I'm often made to feel like I'm hiding something if I don't reply with a direct answer.  I become so embarrassed and frustrated that I fail to produce any intelligent response.

"That's an oddly personal question. Why do you ask?"
Title: Re: Dealing with people who have allergies to bean dip
Post by: magician5 on November 26, 2011, 07:12:04 AM
"I was one hundred and three last week. But people tell me I look young for my age."
Title: Re: Dealing with people who have allergies to bean dip
Post by: Steve on November 26, 2011, 10:42:52 AM
How about:

"How old are you"
"I'm over 21 if you are going to offer me a glass of wine"
"No, seriously, how old are you?"
"Why would you want to know that"
"I'm curious"
"I see"
"So - how old are you? You must be sensitive about your age."
"That's an interesting assumption"

Title: Re: Dealing with people who have allergies to bean dip
Post by: AfleetAlex on December 22, 2011, 02:55:58 PM
I give a friendly/sly smile and say in a gently teasing tone, "Now, now, you're never supposed to ask a lady her age," and then chuckle, and usually that ends the conversation (they usually chuckle with me). This response goes with my usual good-sense-of-humor tone, so it comes across as more friendly banter than rebuke - but it works.
Title: Re: Dealing with people who have allergies to bean dip
Post by: mabelle on December 22, 2011, 03:28:59 PM
My husband always answers with an outrageous lie - he's 45 and he'll say "65 - don't I look great for my age?" or "17, but I've got that rapid aging thing in my genes." not etiquette, but always good for a laugh.
Title: Re: Dealing with people who have allergies to bean dip
Post by: Fleur-de-Lis on December 22, 2011, 03:35:45 PM
One time I just said, "It doesn't matter," only to be told that I must be very sensitive about my age or must be going through "the change."  At that point, I can never say anything that won't get me in a lot of trouble.

Social bullies is really what those people are, and my problem is that, due to professional reasons, I really can't afford to offend them.


Bolding mine.

What *can* you do about someone who would actually make pronouncements such as the bolded? That person is an HR nightmare waiting to happen and should be deemed devoid of all credibility and importance, starting with you. 
Title: Re: Dealing with people who have allergies to bean dip
Post by: WillyNilly on December 22, 2011, 05:45:19 PM
A friend of mine would ask back, 'How old do you think I am?'  If they responded with a number less than her age, she would say, 'OK'.  And most of the time, especially guys, would guess lower.

This what I usualy do. I have them guess and then say "yup". In my life only one person ever guessed older, so generally I feel its an honest enough answer, after all my actual age includes the number they guessed.

Once in while I will answer intrusive questions with "yes". This generaly confuses the person asking enough to drop it:

How old are you?
Yes
No, I asked how old you are
Yes I know
So are you going to tell me?
I answered you
But you didn't say your age you only said "yes"
Right.

Trust me they walk away 99% of the time after that.








Title: Re: Dealing with people who have allergies to bean dip
Post by: Bast on December 28, 2011, 04:07:21 PM
"Only my doctor knows, and s/he hasn't told me recently." smile, and ask them a question.

And there is also my own personal favorite: "physically, mentally or emotionally, because they're all different!"

With kids, though, I will either tell them, or say that I am older than X, where X is something that they are interested in, like trains, dinosaurs, a video game...
Title: Re: Dealing with people who have allergies to bean dip
Post by: Nemesis on December 29, 2011, 09:55:12 PM
Q: "How old are you?"
A: (Said with a smile and humour) "Old enough to know not to ask a lady her age"

It's never failed me so far.
Title: Re: Dealing with people who have allergies to bean dip
Post by: wheeitsme on December 30, 2011, 11:08:10 AM
"I'm not sensitive about my age.  I'm sensitive about people asking my age."
Title: Re: Dealing with people who have allergies to bean dip
Post by: Ginderette on February 02, 2012, 04:25:14 AM
WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot and Bast your answers made me laugh and reminded me of a good quote:

"Ah but I was so much older then; I'm younger than that now."
 - Bob Dylan

Indeed, it's silly to fret about how long one's lived  - I don't understand why some people think it's so crucial to keep in step with the tick-tock of Time. It's not about the length but what's done that's important! I wonder if these folks would be the ones that would go on a journey and only fret about getting to the destination and be blind to wondrous sights along the way. ;)
Title: Re: Dealing with people who have allergies to bean dip
Post by: Dr_Manners on February 02, 2012, 05:58:24 PM
I like what my mother does.  She just responds with "Old enough not to know better than to answer that question," said with a wink and a smile.  It usually makes people chuckle, and they know not to proceed further.
Title: Re: Dealing with people who have allergies to bean dip
Post by: Fidgets on February 07, 2012, 11:18:40 AM
"I was one hundred and three last week. But people tell me I look young for my age."

Lol!  That's close to mine--"I'm 138. (pause a beat)  And a half."  Or, "I'm 138, but I have most of my own teeth!"  Occasionally, I go with, "As part of the Witness Protection Program, I'm not allowed to divulge any personal information.  Oops!  I've said too much." followed by a very obvious conversational redirect.  All of the above are said with a smile.  In actuality, I don't care if anyone knows my age, it's someone asking a personal question that I find annoying.  And this topic has gotten me thinking--my next response might be, "You know, no one's asked me that question for a long time.  Not since I was answering it with, "I'm *this* (holding up random number of fingers) many years old!"
Title: Re: Dealing with people who have allergies to bean dip
Post by: chibichan on March 24, 2012, 06:40:58 PM
I will sometimes respond with " Plenty-nine ! "

Or " I started counting backwards after 30 , so I should be entering puberty next year ."

My favorite - " Let's just say that if I was a donkey I'd be dead now and leave it at that , shall we ? ."

Included for your handy reference :

http://sonic.net/~petdoc/lifespan.htm