Do You Hear What I Hear?

I have heard on the radio several times this week that one of the most stressful things during the holidays is dealing with relatives and more importantly their nosy questions. 

Such questions include: When are you getting married? Have you lost weight? When are you going to give me grandchildren?, etc.

I am sure they mean well but it still makes for awkward moments when they are being so intrusive.

Obviously, this also happens in the workplace (not necessarily with those questions) but certainly with others that are head scratchers.

Some of your coworkers may be trying to get information out of you about some changes and/or new initiatives that you are privy to and they are not.

They may also want to gossip about others and want to get you involved.

Regardless if this happens at home or work or both, it is time to create boundaries. 

The issue is that we usually get caught off guard, so we stumble over what we want to say or our non-verbal communication relays a different message.

There are also those who just don’t take “no” for an answer.

This happens to me twice a year when my students want me to change their final grade.

They blame me that I don’t post their grades throughout the semester even though they are more than capable of calculating their grade (hello! Use

My latest strategy is to have go-to phrases and questions.

When asked if I have lost weight, I may reply “Did you think I was fat before?”

Or if someone wants to me to share information about another person, I counter with “Do you know what they are saying about you?” 

I may be snarky but it really does work. I just love the look of surprise on their faces when I push back because they are not expecting that answer.

I also reflect later on why they ask these questions.

For relatives like grandma, she may have good intentions and just want you to be happy which in her eyes means that you have found someone.

If this is the case, ask her about how she met your grandfather and what was their courtship like.

At work, you may have to realize that when rumors start about possible changes that are going to happen, people’s anxiety skyrockets and they may not act appropriately.

Try to be compassionate but if it continues use my line “I am not going to discuss this.”

Don’t say anything else. Walk away if need be.

Not engaging is more powerful than any words you use.

Lastly learn to breathe.

You may know that if Nosy Nancy or Ned sees you in the hall, it is going to be a painful interaction.

Lock yourself in your office or tell them that you ate something bad and you need to run to the bathroom. I doubt they will follow you.

Good luck, Happy Holidays, and here is to a less stressed 2024.