How to handle awkward questions from family members

You are having a family reunion and out of the blue one of your family members asks an awkward question pertaining to your spouse and kids. You immediately become uncomfortable and unsure on how to proceed.

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  • You are having a family reunion and out of the blue one of your family members asks an awkward question pertaining to your spouse and kids. You immediately become uncomfortable and unsure on how to proceed. However, since you are family, you choose to refrain from any rude remarks and answer the question. But down deep, you are irritated the question was asked.

  • Family members sometimes assume there is nothing wrong with getting a little too personal with other family members. However, certain matters regarding husbands and wives or parents and children are private and should not be addressed, unless the married couple or parents mention the matter first. Therefore, if you are approached with awkward questions, it is your right to refuse to respond.

  • I’ve been in that predicament one too many times, but I’ve learned my lesson. If I’m that uncomfortable, I kindly refuse to respond and walk away. But, if you choose to answer unwillingly, simply to avoid tension, there are ways to minimize how you reply.

  • Here are four tips for dealing with awkward questions.

  • Maintain your composure

  • Sometimes you are caught off guard with a strange question or two, and you stumble over how to respond. Even if you feel defensive, maintain calmness, smile and vaguely answer the questions in hopes to satisfy the person.

  • Shift the topic

  • As soon as you are asked an awkward question, provide a short answer and immediately change the topic. Ask the person something about himself or his family. By averting the topic from you to him, he will concentrate on the question you asked him. Chances are he will forget what he asked you originally.

  • Express discomfort

  • . If you feel out of place with the question or conversation taking place, do not feel embarrassed to speak up. In a well-mannered tone of voice, tell the person how uncomfortable he is making you feel and how he has gone a tad too far. You reserve the option not to respond or engage in the discussion. Be respectful but firm. People need to understand they have stepped over boundaries.

  • Excuse yourself

  • . You do not have to feel obligated to answer any questions or remain in an unpleasant conversation. You have the right to remove yourself from the uncomfortable setting. By all means do not feel guilty. Politely tell the person you have something to do or somewhere to be. More than likely the person will realize they made you feel out of place.

  • Awkward moments can sometimes drive you to lose your patience, but try your best to keep cool for your sake — and your family’s. If you have children, you do not want to teach them aggressiveness or nastiness toward others, especially toward family members. By teaching your kids to maintain a calm demeanor and by choosing one of the options above, your children will be well prepared when they find themselves in a similar predicament.

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Mayra Colón is a freelance writer, former independent author and avid reader. She holds a MBA from the University of Phoenix and completed the Freelance Writing and Selling Online course from Rutgers University of Arts and Sciences.

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