Summary: There are going to be people you work with that are rude or have no filter, so prepare yourself with professional comebacks when they ask inappropriate questions.
“How much money do you make?” “Is that your real nose?” “Are you pregnant?” Chances are you have had someone ask you an annoyingly inappropriate or rude question at some point in your life, maybe even at work. How did you respond to the comment? If the person is someone you see and work with every day, then you can’t respond back in a rude manner.
The person may not even realize they asked something offensive. With that in mind, avoid a snarky retort and find the higher ground. It may take a reminder to the person that what they asked is not appropriate or welcomed. You can try walking away from the conversation, changing the subject, or being quite blunt and honest to them about what they asked. There is small talk and then there is talking small. Here are 16 possible ways you can respond in a professional way when someone asks you an inappropriate question at work:
- Excuse me? Did you just ask (summarize their question to you).
- Sorry, I wasn’t listening. Can you repeat what you just asked?
- Whatever you say.
- Do you expect me to answer that?
- Well, I think this conversation is over.
- You’re kidding right? Right?
- Ouch! Did you mean that to be rude?
- That’s the most pretentious thing I’ve ever heard.
- Can you help me understand why you thought that was an appropriate question to ask and why I should bother answering it?
- Thank you. That is a refreshing and unique point of view.
- I’m sorry, I don’t speak English.
- Enough about me, what have you been doing lately?
- That was a bit rude.
- I don’t know how to answer that.
- I assume you didn’t mean to be rude, but that is how that question came off.
Learn how to deal with other difficult coworkers:16 Professional Comebacks to Inappropriate Questions at Work by Amanda Griffin