Have you ever been at a social outing, a professional dinner, or even a networking event when someone just keeps asking you a question which borders on inappropriate and outright rudeness? You have no intention of answering to the level of detail the person wants; and yet the inquisitor simply will not give up?
I have. More than once. It is incredibly rude and infuriating at times.
A typical example may sound like this: “What happened between you and Ed?” The answer might be: “We just decided to part ways. All is well and amiable.”
The vulture comes in for more detail: “No, I mean what really happened? You can tell me.”
At this point, the level of ongoing intrusion can be very frustrating, if not outright irritating. The temptation is to shut them down and say something like: “This is really none of your business.” or ” Let me tell you what really happened.”
That just plays right into their hands. They either force you to fluster or they get the dirt – either way, they win.
Another approach which I have seen work beautifully is to just keep giving the interrogator the same answer, in the same tone of voice and with the exact same facial expression, over and over and over again. It may take 2-3 times with the same approach (my personal record is 4 times with the same individual over the course of a 2 hour cocktail reception); yet, it worked. I never raised my voice or lost my temper, though I must admit I was close!
Imagine this exchange: “We just decided to part ways. All is well.” Over and over until finally it shuts the person down.
This is a powerful and confident way to address the other person’s question in the way you want AND it also distinguishes you as a poised, unflappable and centered leader.