Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers – Voltaire

Have you ever had an almost total stranger ask you extremely personal or inappropriate questions? Like, if parts of your body are real or how much money you make? I think everyone has had this experience.  Every time this happens, I’m left with a dumbfounded expression and complete confusion banging in my skull. I wonder what makes a person so clueless that they demand information that most of us wouldn’t even tell our therapist.

For example, when I first landed in Louisville, years before I entered the civilized world of Bourke Accounting, I took a job at a convenience store. My first (and only) night there, I was being trained by a rather interesting woman. Within the first 20 minutes, she asked how many children I had. When I told her that I didn’t have any, she looked me up and down. “Oh, are you barren?” Uh, no, I don’t think so. “What, can’t you find a man?” Okay, we’re done here.

F. Diane Barth, writing for Psychology Today, gives these people the benefit of the doubt. One of her top reasons that people ask uncomfortable questions is that “they really do not realize that what they are asking is not OK.” She goes on to propose that the inquisitor might be suffering from some sort of personality disorder or an “inability to empathize with someone else’s feelings” (Psychologytoday.com). The National Institute of Mental Health reports that “nearly one in five US adults live with a mental illness,” so, I suppose that this could be the case…

Sarah Lynch, writer for (and founder of) BucketOrange Magazine isn’t quite as forgiving. Her premise is that some people ask these personal questions to put themselves in a “powerful position to use that information against you…in the future.” So far, our two options are that someone is mentally unbalanced or out to get us. Someone please remind me why I leave my house.

Barth, that perennial optimist of Psychology Today, also suggests that another motivation for nosy questions is that these people are legitimately interested in helping. She uses the example of an aunt asking her niece if she really needed an extra plate of food. It turns out that the aunt had been heavy and, perhaps, wanted to save her niece from harassment later. At least this logic doesn’t make me want to run and hide, but it’s still an intrusive and ill-mannered line of questioning.

So, what do you do if you’re asked an indelicate, personal question? As you might have suspected, most advice is focused around taking “the high road.” Even if someone is aware of the audacity of their interrogation, “you should never stoop to getting back at them with bad manners” (TheSpruce.com). Instead, if you choose not to answer, you are encouraged to “use humor to soften your response and then change the subject.” And hope the person gets the hint.

Humans are social animals. Being such, you are probably going to get an offensive question here and there. Maybe Bourke Accounting is making me gentler, but next time, I’m going to tell a “Knock, Knock” joke, smile and walk away.

Our Bourke Accounting reps are not socially dysfunctional. From what I can tell, Bourke Accounting accountants and bookkeepers aren’t mentally ill and they are definitely not out to get you. You’ll be asked some personal questions, but only as they pertain to your financial situation. Bourke Accounting specialists won’t ask why you’re not married, why you have no kids, why you have 3 kids. In other words, you will never feel uncomfortable while talking with your Bourke Accounting specialist.

Come see us any time. Our number is 502-451-8773 and don’t forget to visit our website at www.bourkeaccounting.com. See you soon!

Written by Sue H.