It’s a truth universally acknowledged: nobody enjoys being probed with questions about their personal life.
Especially when those questions are fired like an unrelenting information seeking machine gun.
To avoid giving away more information than you wish to during one of these stealth attacks, you need to psychologically prepare by thinking like a lawyer.
Why Do People Ask Personal Or Inappropriate Questions?
Asking questions and sharing information is a way of building trust and forming social bonds. Humans are naturally curious. We love discovering little known information about others, because it gives us a social metric to compare our own success or failure.
In its least offensive form, personal questions can be asked out of curiosity and an genuine desire to get to know you. On the other end of the spectrum, however, these interrogations can be carried out with the goal of obtaining your personal information and misusing it.
This is the social greywater where ‘information hounds’ love to drink.
If someone knows intimate details about your personal life, financial or career situation, for example, they not only have an insight into what makes you tick, but are also in a powerful position to use that information against you immediately or in the future.
Information hounds use shock tactics, manipulation and stealth psychological strategies to trick you into disclosing information that you would not otherwise be prepared to part with. For this type of person probing for your personal information is not just a hobby, it’s a blood sport.
How To Spot A Hound?
Information hounds are generally people who are not in your inner friendship circle or professional network.
The very reason you are naturally reluctant to share information with them is because they live on the outskirts of your social world. Their capacity to keep your personal information private, or maintain your strict confidence, is largely is unproven.
It stands to reason, then, that people who have no reservations when it comes to asking you personal or inappropriate questions are not entitled to that information.
After all, if you wanted that person to know details about your private life, you would have volunteered the information to them in the first place!
What Strategies Do Hounds Commonly Use?
Information hounds are brash and unapologetic. Some common strategies involve:
- Boldly asking you a personal question out-of-the-blue. This surprise tactic guarantees you will be so stunned that you are likely to give up the information immediately.
2. Rapid-fire questions used to disrupt your equilibrium and impact your judgement. The speed and intensity of this style of questioning leaves you with zero time to answer with anything other than the truth before the next wave of questions hits you.
3. Feigned concern about you. At face value, it seems as though these enquiries come from a place of care or concern about your wellbeing. For example, “You look really exhausted lately, is everything okay at home with you?” or “You seem so overwhelmed. Are you coping with all your work?” These questions make you feel that your best interests are at the heart of the enquiry, but in reality they mask a hidden agenda. As you explain what is worrying you, the hound gains an immediate insight into your deepest life troubles. That information can now be used to spread rumours about your failed relationships; to damage your reputation; or to make an argument to your boss that you are not coping and to steal your promotion.
Information hounds do not feel remorse for making you feel awkward or embarrassed by their enquiries.
In fact, they thrive on it because it means they get what they want!
What Sorts Of Questions Do Hounds Love To Ask?
Nobody has any right to answers that flow from the following questions:
- “How are you going to vote?”
- “Where do you live?”
- “How much did you pay for your house?”
- “How much do you pay for your rent?”
- “How much do you earn?”
- “How did you get this job anyway, do you know someone?”
- “How old are you?”
- “Do you have a partner?”
- “Why are you single?”
- “Are you still living with your parents?”
- “Is that your natural hair colour?”
- “So when are you going to settle down?”
- “Are you ever going to have kids? The biological clock is ticking, y’know.”
- “How much do you weigh?”
How To Think Like A Lawyer & Avoid Awkward Encounters
Experienced CEOs, business owners and lawyers rarely get caught giving away information they do not purposely intend to reveal. So how do they do it?
Lawyers, in particular, go into every social or work situation with the upper hand.
This is because lawyers trade in the exchange of information everyday. They are considered with their responses and trained to weigh facts, risks and possible outcomes. Lawyers understand common motivations behind enquiring human minds, and the far-reaching implications of private information getting into the wrong hands.
When asked a question, either socially or professionally, lawyers will pause and think carefully about their answer. These precious few seconds are critical time needed to mentally cycle through and analyse:
- Who the information is likely to benefit or detriment
- What purpose the information could potentially be used (whether good or bad)
- Why the question is being requested in the first place
- Whether there is a need for the information to be shared
O-riginal Tip: Try to forecast the future flow on effects of revealing information about yourself.
It is always worth using the same strategies employed by a lawyer. Ask yourself why someone is asking a particular question before deciding whether to answer.
Put yourself in the position of the person asking you a probing question. Think about why they need that information and whether their possession of it could be harmful to you.
Our Best Strategies To Avoid Annoying/Personal Questions
Watch our short video below:
What strategies do you use to avoid being hounded by personal questions? Let us know in the comments section below!