To some, it’s “being interested.” To me, it’s “being nosy.”

When I was a kid, my parents often asked about my friends “Oh, what does her dad do for a living?”  My response was an annoyed “I don’t know.”  To my parents, it was unfathomable that I had not asked.  To me, asking was unfathomable.  Why would I spend time with my friends talking about their lame parents or my lame parents?  That was lame topic of conversation. Lame lame lame.

I also hated the interrogation that grown-ups would foist on me.  “Are you doing well in school?” blah blah, like they had ANY right to know what my grades were.  But if I didn’t want to answer, it was totally “rude.”  In my mid-twenties, I even had a prospective employer ask me what my parents thought of me moving so far away from home.  Uh, what?

Naturally, I shy away from asking other people prying, annoying, and quite honestly irrelevant questions that I used to find so invasive.  I figure that if people want to tell something, they’ll just up and TELL it.  Asking “so, do you have any brothers and sisters” feels so forced.  Like “what are you trying to get at here?”

After the umpteenth lecture by my dad about how I needed to start interacting better with people and actually take an interest in their lives, because, you know, he is an expert on all my interactions with other people that he’s not around for, I tried to take his advice to heart.  Maybe I was doing it wrong.  Maybe I should be trying to engage in conversation with irrelevant questions that I don’t care about and that the other person wasn’t planning to discuss.  Maybe that’s just what people do in polite society.

So, I started asking people stupid questions about their families and hobbies, which was usually met with a puzzled answer.  In a very awkward way, at my next job, I attempted to get to know my coworker.  I casually asked him about his parents.  “My mother committed suicide when I was 12.”

Uh. Shit. What?

No, daddy, you were wrong. I’ll continue to err on the side of not being prying or nosy.  If that makes me seem cold, so be it.

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4 Responses to “To some, it’s “being interested.” To me, it’s “being nosy.””

  1. I’m pretty similar. I practically refuse to ask questions of a personal nature, but I’ve learned that it is all in the tact…. and I apparently have none! My husband, on the other hand, can have a 15 minute conversation with someone and find out everything there is to know, including familial medical history, yearly income, and previous child abortions, and everyone walks away with a smile on their face happy with the interaction…. it blows my mind, but that’s just not the way I work.

  2. I think I have that same anti social problem. I don’t like small talk and I hate when people try to bait you into talking about themselves. Like, “ouch, my knee hurts!”
    I stare at them with a look of “FUCKING AND?” but I keep silent until they tell me or I walk away. I dislike being baited.

  3. I am some wierd hybrid, my dad who is a salesman, who can sell ice to eskimos asks 8 billion questions, not me….but the gift of gab is in me when I need it, or when I’m drunk enough.

    Otherwise, I’m a quiet sorta prick.

  4. I don’t ask prying questions but, people love to tell me their darkest secrets without having to prompt them. I can chat about anything if I actually want to talk to you or I think I should.

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