11 Ways to Deal With People Who Meddle in Your Life
The Busie Body was a successful play in the 18th century about a busybody who loves knowing everybody’s business and interfering in his friends’ love affairs. His name is Marplot, a pun on him marring people’s plots. It seems like nothing much has changed today, as we all have to face people who like to get involved in our lives at one point or the other. But we can take charge so that these people won’t interfere with our lives any longer.
We at Bright Side break down the different methods we can take to deal with people who stick their noses into our business.
1. Try to see if they mean well.
Sometimes people have good intentions but the way they say things sounds hurtful. Try to take a step back and assess whether they actually have your best interests at heart. There could be some truth in what they’re saying. But it could also be because they care about themselves, and you do not fit into their idea of something, which means it really isn’t because of your shortcomings.
2. Draw clear boundaries.
Use assertive “I” statements to say that you won’t be entertaining the topic, e.g., “I don’t discuss my salary.” Learn to say no and know that you don’t even have to give them an explanation for it, e.g., “No, don’t set me up with anyone.” It is also helpful to safeguard your things, like not leaving your phone lying around or your Facebook account logged in on a shared computer, so that the meddlers can’t get access to your information.
3. Don’t take it personally.
Know that you can control what you do, but you can’t control what others do. So even if you know that they shouldn’t have said or asked what they did, you can control how you feel about it. Try to focus on what they’re saying, rather than whether or not it should have happened.
4. Ignore them.
There are some people that you cannot avoid and have to maintain a civil relationship with, like your colleague or your neighbor. If they meddle in your life, as long as it does not get out of hand, perhaps it is best to pay no attention to them.
5. Don’t share private things with them.
Your personal information fuels nosy people, because once they know something about you they’ll want to comment on it or question it. So try to keep things to yourself, even if they ask you about it by giving a non-answer. Let’s say someone asked, “Why are you still single?” you could answer with “How sweet of you to be concerned.” You could also ensure that they can’t easily get your information by restricting their access on social media.
6. Retort with polite comebacks.
While you shouldn’t be rude, it doesn’t mean that you can’t come up with a sassy comeback. You could also turn the table around and say, “I didn’t realize you were so invested in my situation. Is there a reason for that?” This may catch them off guard because now they’re the one who is faced with a difficult question.
7. React with kindness.
In some cases, people intrude in other people’s lives because they’re unhappy with their own. It’s possible that being involved in your life helps them to feel better about their own. So it might be helpful to lend them an empathetic ear. If they say “Why did you divorce such a nice guy?” you could shrug and reply politely with “Did you have an experience with divorce that you regret?”
8. Minimize your time with them.
The simplest way to deal with a busybody is to reduce your interaction with them. If you can get away from engaging with them, do so. For example, you could easily screen their name so that every time they call, you don’t have to answer. Otherwise, just make sure that you spend as little time with them as possible.
9. Deflect to change the topic.
Lying could get you in trouble later, so one of the best ways to avoid answering nosy questions is by changing the subject. If someone asks you something you’re not comfortable answering, you can also shift the focus so that they’re the one who needs to answer a question. For example, if someone asks, “You still don’t have a child?” you can say “I remember you have 3 kids. How old are they now?”
10. Tell them how you feel.
Confronting people and opening your heart to them might make you seem vulnerable, but it might do both of you a favor. Some people may think they’re only saying harmless things without knowing their words cause you pain. But if they turn defensive or belittle you more after you tell them about your discomfort, it’s a clear sign that they’re the kind of people you should stay away from.
11. Brush it off with humor.
If you prefer for things to stay comfortable and for everybody to save face, use humor. The meddler may not get the hint or ignore it completely, but at least you can laugh about it. When asked, “Are you seeing anyone?” you can reply with “I’m seeing that pie over there and it looks delicious.”
What kind of comments or questions have you gotten from people who try to get involved in your life? How did you respond to them? Share your stories with us!