Author Topic: Answering touchy questions about a family member  (Read 2162 times)

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oceanus

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Answering touchy questions about a family member
« on: December 26, 2012, 11:02:58 PM »
This coming weekend Ill be seeing a group of relatives that I dont see very often.  While Im looking forward to the festivities, catching up, etc. in this particular group there are a few people who (based on past interaction and observation) are prone to digging for dirt/prodding for information, and they also gossip.

Specifically, when they find out certain people no longer get along or associate they want to know all the details why.

My younger sister and I are not close anymore.  She lives in another state and we dont keep in touch.  Our lives are completely different (hers is full of drama brought on by her very poor choices).  My DS is also a backstabber, and I got caught in her web one time too many which resulted in a parting of the ways several years ago.

Her name rarely comes up.  Some people know the details, many do not.  I dont think its anyones business.

My concern:  Someone is bound to ask:  Hows X?  Do you talk to/hear from X?  I understand that it might just be an innocent question from some people, but from others not so much.  In the past, Ive been able to deflect with Oh, fine last I heard.  Then if I try to bean-dip, I may get a frown followed by Huh?  What do you mean last you heard?  This can get touchy; I dont want to say I have no idea and Id rather not discuss X.  A silent stare doesn't seem to fit here.

Im hoping it wont be an issue, but if so, any suggestions?  Thanks.



Amara

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Re: Answering touchy questions about a family member
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2012, 11:15:53 PM »
Fine!!! (*big bright smile*)

doodlemor

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Re: Answering touchy questions about a family member
« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2012, 12:12:32 AM »
You are under no obligation to tell your personal business to a bunch of nasty gossips.  I think that Amara's reply is great.

If they persist, then you will know that they are fishing for information.  Don't hesitate to tell them firmly that this is something that you are not going to discuss.  Rinse, lather, repeat.  Don't let them wear you down.  Leave, if necessary.

if they get mad they will either get over it or die mad, as the ehell expression goes. 

m2kbug

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Re: Answering touchy questions about a family member
« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2012, 12:15:35 AM »
I've never really had anyone push and push and push.  I have several family members who are not on speaking terms, and basically no one wants to be discussed to the "enemy," but occasionally people come up, and I'm just vague as I possibly can be.

How's Joan these days? 
Pretty good? 
What's she up to? 
Not much, work, hobby. 
I heard something-or-other. 
Yeah.  I don't really know any details.

Lot's of I don't really know any details.  Or I haven't talked to her in awhile.  You would have to ask her about that, I have no clue. 

Having someone ever so curious about why you and your sister haven't talked, you could just simply say, "I don't know, I guess we've both been busy."  Just vague responses, and "I don't know," has typically worked for me, but like I said, I really haven't had anyone keep pushing and pushing and pushing.  Usually they get the hint or I can escape the situation, say I'm going to go get a refill, do you want one, or something.  Conversation over. 

Really at this point it's no mystery the things that have happened that caused the divisions in the family.  There's really no point in rehashing everything now, and who wants to bring up ugly topics at a family celebration anyway?  I wouldn't have a problem saying I don't want to discuss it.  Lots of stuff, I'm sure, if they really need to know, they can just ask that other person. 

blue2000

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Re: Answering touchy questions about a family member
« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2012, 06:04:05 AM »
I have some nosy gossipy people in my family. They will make a mountain out of a molehill every time - they love it. So I give short, boring answers and they eventually lose interest.

I'd just go with "She's fine. So how is X?" and take the conversation away from your sister. As far as you know she IS fine, right? You haven't heard that she is in the hospital/jail/mortuary, so that is technically correct. If they keep going (How is her job? House?)

"It is fine. Did you see Y yet? Has he brought his new wife?"
"Everything is fine. How's J?"
"She's fine. Did you get that promotion?"
You are only young once. After that you have to think up some other excuse.

camlan

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Re: Answering touchy questions about a family member
« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2012, 06:24:25 AM »
Just because someone wants all the little details does not mean you have to tell them. It's not rude to set boundaries.

Give minimal answers. Deflect. Use the many excellent examples given in this thread.

Or turn it on them and ask them about someone close to them who isn't at the party.

I had an uncomfortable period of time when I didn't speak to my father for about three years. At family gatherings, someone would be sure to ask about him. "Oh, he's fine," I'd say. "You can check with Bob/Ted/Sam--I think he's visited him more recently than I have."  Since I lived a couple of states away from Dad, that made sense and they'd leave me alone.
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Penguin_ar

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Re: Answering touchy questions about a family member
« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2012, 07:10:26 AM »
I would make it about you, and then deflect to tell the questioner they need to contact sister directly.  So:
"How is X?"
"Oh, fine."
"Just fine?  What is she up to?"
"I've been so busy lately with my move/ promotion/ new dog I haven't talked to her much."
"But she is your sister!  How is that cough she had/ boss she hated/ new boyfriend?"
*smiles* "Why don't you ask her?  I bet she'd love a call from you!"

oceanus

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Re: Answering touchy questions about a family member
« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2012, 10:27:51 AM »
Lots of excellent suggestions and reminders.  I appreciate all the feedback.

One thing I forgot to mention (in fact, the main reason I started this thread): 
   There is one particular relative (an aunt) who Im anticipating might be a little bit of a problem.  I happen to know that she stays in touch with my sister.  She virtually walks around with a shovel, dig dig dig, ya know?  Always with a smile.  Based on her modus operandi, I expect her to make a point of seeking me out and asking So, how are things with you and X, have you talked to her recently?

She KNOWS I havent talked to my sister recently, and Id love to remind her that Im not an idiot and I know exactly what shes doing.  ::) But if I did that she would look all innocent and I would come off as the nasty one who is holding a grudge.  It would also give her something to call and tell my sister about the next day.

So, Ill use some of the suggested replies.

Redneck Gravy

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Re: Answering touchy questions about a family member
« Reply #8 on: December 27, 2012, 10:33:12 AM »
This coming weekend Ill be seeing a group of relatives that I dont see very often.  While Im looking forward to the festivities, catching up, etc. in this particular group there are a few people who (based on past interaction and observation) are prone to digging for dirt/prodding for information, and they also gossip.

Specifically, when they find out certain people no longer get along or associate they want to know all the details why.

My younger sister and I are not close anymore.  She lives in another state and we dont keep in touch.  Our lives are completely different (hers is full of drama brought on by her very poor choices).  My DS is also a backstabber, and I got caught in her web one time too many which resulted in a parting of the ways several years ago.

Her name rarely comes up.  Some people know the details, many do not.  I dont think its anyones business.

My concern:  Someone is bound to ask:  Hows X?  Do you talk to/hear from X?  I understand that it might just be an innocent question from some people, but from others not so much.  In the past, Ive been able to deflect with Oh, fine last I heard.  Then if I try to bean-dip, I may get a frown followed by Huh?  What do you mean last you heard?  This can get touchy; I dont want to say I have no idea and Id rather not discuss X.   A silent stare doesn't seem to fit here.

Im hoping it wont be an issue, but if so, any suggestions?  Thanks.

I understand that you don't want to say this but doesn't this cover the reply that is needed?   Then throw beandip at the questioner. 

lowspark

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Re: Answering touchy questions about a family member
« Reply #9 on: December 27, 2012, 10:50:15 AM »
I'm not sure if this would work for you or not, but why not head her off by taking the offensive instead of waiting till she puts you on the defensive? You know she's in touch with your sister so why don't you ask her (before she gets a chance to say anything to you). "Have you talked to sis lately? How's she doing?" Then if she says something about why you don't keep in touch yourself, you can reply the vague "I don't know", adding "I'm glad/I hope she's doing well though!". And then, the topic having been covered, you can move on to the next topic.

oceanus

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Re: Answering touchy questions about a family member
« Reply #10 on: December 27, 2012, 10:56:29 AM »
I'm not sure if this would work for you or not, but why not head her off by taking the offensive instead of waiting till she puts you on the defensive? You know she's in touch with your sister so why don't you ask her (before she gets a chance to say anything to you). "Have you talked to sis lately? How's she doing?" Then if she says something about why you don't keep in touch yourself, you can reply the vague "I don't know", adding "I'm glad/I hope she's doing well though!". And then, the topic having been covered, you can move on to the next topic.

Heh.   ;) Then walk away.  Tempting.  That would really throw her off. 

pierrotlunaire0

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Re: Answering touchy questions about a family member
« Reply #11 on: December 27, 2012, 11:22:31 AM »
I'm not sure if this would work for you or not, but why not head her off by taking the offensive instead of waiting till she puts you on the defensive? You know she's in touch with your sister so why don't you ask her (before she gets a chance to say anything to you). "Have you talked to sis lately? How's she doing?" Then if she says something about why you don't keep in touch yourself, you can reply the vague "I don't know", adding "I'm glad/I hope she's doing well though!". And then, the topic having been covered, you can move on to the next topic.

Genius!
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