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Hi, my name is Anne Marie with Speak Confident English and this week we are
going to talk about those questions like: so why aren't you married yet?
And why don't you have any kids? What happened with your divorce?
Or... so why did you leave your country?
If you've ever had to deal with an uncomfortable awkward or intrusive question,
then in today's video we're going to talk about how to deal
with those questions politely in English.
One of the biggest difficulties when speaking another language is how to
answer or deal with uncomfortable questions. Now honestly when someone asks
you a question that really isn't polite or appropriate, they know it.
They know that it's nosy and that they shouldn't ask it.
In fact, in English we often use phrases like
I know I shouldn't ask this but...
I know I shouldn't ask this but why don't you have kids?
Or I hope you don't mind me asking...
I hope you don't mind me asking but what happened in your divorce?
If you hear someone using those phrases
they know they're asking a question that isn't polite.
The challenge is how do you respond and this is why it's difficult.
In your native language you totally know what to say.
You could make some kind of joke or say something like
hey that's none of your business! Which we do say in English.
But when you're doing it in a second language
you're not so comfortable about making the jokes and
you might feel really embarrassed in the situation, you're surprised by the question
and honestly you just don't know what to do.
You want to change the topic or answer the right away but it doesn't make you feel comfortable.
But in today's Confident English lesson you'll have several
strategies that you can use to politely and kindly deal with those questions in
a way where both of you can leave the conversation and feel happy or you can
continue the conversation on a totally different subject. But first there's one thing
you need to know and that is you don't have to answer an uncomfortable or awkward question!
If someone asks you something and you don't feel very good about it,
you don't have to answer it.
So let's talk about some ways that you can deal with that situation.
Strategy number one: play at their own game.
Now I only recommend this strategy if you're talking to someone that
you know well and you see them regularly and you can control your intonation in English.
Now if you need practice with intonation
I actually have a fantastic lesson on that and
I'll be sure to include a link at the bottom of this lesson below the video.
But when you play at their own game,
you are repeating a really difficult or uncomfortable question back to them and
you might say something like well how much do you weigh or
before I answer that question you tell me why don't you have kids.
But to do that correctly,
you need to make sure that your intonation doesn't sound angry or upset.
You want it to be a little bit playful and light. So again you need to
be in control of that intonation and I recommend that it's with someone that
you see regularly or you know well—maybe it's a neighbor or someone that you work with.
Now if you're not comfortable playing with the language and asking an
inappropriate or uncomfortable question back, then here are four other strategies
that are really simple and polite to use.
First, simply address it politely and you can say something like:
I'm sorry I really don't want to answer that.
You know I'd rather not talk about that or you know I'd rather not talk about that here
maybe we can go to lunch sometime and talk about it.
Sorry can we talk about something else
And finally, I'm not really comfortable answering that. All of those examples are
perfectly polite and it's a great response to an uncomfortable question
and then you can immediately end the conversation if you want or ask a
different question and change the subject.
Now number two: you could be much more direct,
and this might be better if someone asks a particularly nosy or intrusive question,
something that really isn't appropriate.
For example: That's really personal I'm not going to answer that.
Or that question makes me really uncomfortable I'm not answering it.
I'm gonna pretend you didn't just ask me that.
Where I come from I was taught not to ask those kinds of questions.
As I said, those are much more direct, but it does let the person know that
what they asked wasn't okay and again you don't have to answer it if you don't want to.
Now let's imagine that someone continues to ask you this uncomfortable question
they won't let you say no, they won't let you push the question away, then it might
be appropriate to call them out. In other words you are directly letting them know
that what they are doing is not okay.
For example: I can't believe you're asking me that. It's really not appropriate.
It's not okay to ask that kind of question.
That's a really rude question. Or finally, you could even just ask them
why they need to know—why do you need to know that? Why are you asking me?
And the truth is, there isn't a reason why. They don't need to know.
The final strategy you can use is to brush it off like a joke.
You can laugh a little bit, make a joke out of it
and then continue the conversation without answering the question.
This strategy again is all about your intonation
so if you remember that very first strategy where we talked about
asking an inappropriate question back, just like that we really need to control your intonation.
You want your voice to be light and friendly, polite as you make a joke
and then move on to a new topic.
Some common phrases that we use to make a joke out of inappropriate questions
are things like: That's for me to know and you to find out.
Why don't I just give you my diary? My lips are sealed, my lips are sealed.
I'm afraid I'm gonna have to leave you in suspense on that one forever.
Now in today's video I've given you those five strategies of
how to deal with uncomfortable questions, and I shared with you
some of the common expressions and phrases that native speakers say,
things that I say when someone asks me a question I don't want to answer
but the truth is there are so many options and in the online lesson today I've included
many more examples, so I recommend that you go to the online lesson and review
those other examples. The best way to really get comfortable and be prepared
for how to deal with an uncomfortable question is to review the online lesson
and find one or two phrases that are easy for you to remember and
that you're comfortable saying.
Practice saying them out loud so that when that happens in your real life—
hopefully it never does but if it does,
if you have a nosy neighbor or a colleague at work that gets a little too personal,
you know exactly how to deal with it in a polite and kind way
so you both end the conversation happily.
Now as always I do have a couple of challenge questions for you and
I would love to hear from you on these topics:
number one have you ever had a situation in English
where someone asked you an inappropriate question?
If so what did you do about it did you use a strategy like what we
talked about today or maybe you had another strategy that you've used.
I would love to hear about it and you might have an experience that can help someone else.
The best way to share with me and with the Confident English Community is in
the comment section of the online lesson.
The second question I have for you is
what is one expression or phrase that was new for you today in this lesson?
Now if you enjoyed today's lesson, don't forget to give it a thumbs up on YouTube
and share it with friends or colleagues on Facebook.
Thank you so much for joining me and
I look forward to seeing you next time for your Confident English lesson.
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Uncomfortable Questions and How You Should Deal with Them in English

5173 Folder Collection
Samuel published on September 23, 2018    Vvn Chen translated    Evangeline reviewed
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