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6 Quick and Easy Ways to Deal with Nosy Co-Workers

Are you having a hard time dealing with colleagues who can’t stop prying? Here are 6 easy ways to deal with nosy co-workers, and they’re effective too!

nosy coworkers

Working with a bunch of people can be quite fun, especially if those people are close to your age and you share common interests.

And chatting with co-workers can definitely liven up the day and make tedious tasks go by much more quickly.

However, problems begin to arise when co-workers become excessively nosy.

We always want to present the best versions of ourselves to our companies, so there are some potentially embarrassing, private things that we just don’t want those whom we work with to know.

This is especially important if you work in a job that involves dealing with the public, since sensitive information can travel pretty quickly and to a large number of people in those situations.

How to deal with nosy co-workers effectively

Often, we’re presented with a Catch-22. We don’t want to snub our co-workers and make them think we’re not interested in talking to them, but we also don’t want to spill everything about our significant others, our family lives, and our past histories to them, either.

Luckily, there are some ways to fend off a co-worker, when they start prying for more information about you, without causing any offense to them. Below, the best strategies for doing so are described in detail. [Read: 8 easy ways to be good friends with your colleagues without overstepping boundaries]

#1 Look busy

When you see Mr. or Ms. Nosy headed toward your desk or workstation, make sure you appear as if you are very hard at work. Start typing an email, or stare at a pile of paperwork with an expression of extreme focus.

This may make them realize that it isn’t the ideal time to stop and chat, but if they stop anyway, offer up an exaggerated complaint about all the tasks you have to finish up in the next couple of hours. With that, they should take the hint that you have no time to talk, and carry on with their workplace walk-through.

However, if you have a nosy co-worker who is totally oblivious to subtle signs, you may have to resort to pretending to be on the phone when you see them coming, but only do this when you really need to avoid them. If you pull this trick too often, the Nosy One may catch on. [Read: 10 types of creepy guys that are best avoided!]

#2 Change the subject

If you and a co-worker start talking about relationships, and he or she starts asking questions about your past or present ones that you feel are too personal, you can deflect the topic of conversation with a slight subject change.

For instance, if you’re talking about sex in general terms, and then your co-worker asks you how many people you’ve slept with, you can say something like, “I love watching sexy romantic movies on dates. What do you think is the steamiest movie you could watch with a current or potential significant other?”

That way, you’re staying within the same general area of the topic you were discussing, but due to bringing up movies, will not be forced into talking about sex in relation to yourself. [Read: The right way to recognize and end toxic friendships]

#3 Ask them about themselves instead

Often, people who are nosy love talking about themselves, and ask others personal questions because they automatically assume that everyone else does, too! If you don’t feel like responding to their queries, turn their questions back on them. For example, if a co-worker asks you what your parents were like growing up, and you don’t feel like delving into the pit of dysfunction that was your immediate family, you can say, “Oh, they were typical parents, I guess. What were yours like?”

If your co-worker’s truly the kind of person mentioned above, they’ll immediately go into a spiel about how wonderful *or horrible* their childhood was, and forget that you’re anything but a sounding board for their own fascinating stories.

On the other hand, if they don’t want to talk about their family either, your question will hopefully make them realize how annoying it is when other people feel the need to bluntly ask overly personal questions.

#4 Bore them to tears

Your nosy co-worker likely asks you a lot of questions and is preoccupied with all the details of your life because they think you are, or could potentially be, interesting to them. To get them to stop poking around in your business, you need to prove them wrong!

If they decide that you’re the biggest bore ever, they’ll likely pay less attention to you and fish for information from others instead. To bore them to tears, you must give the most mundane answers to their questions that you possibly can.

When they say, “How was your weekend?” respond with something like, “It just came and went. I basically napped the whole time,” and if they ask if you’ve been on any great dates lately, say something dull and non-committal such as, “Nah, I really don’t get out that much.”

Of course, this strategy isn’t going to work if they frequently see you out having a good time, but it will work if the nosy person isn’t already very familiar with you.

#5 Keep personal possessions under wraps

Nosy people have a talent for noticing everything in another person’s environment, including small, inconspicuous things that wouldn’t show up on the average person’s radar. While you’re talking to them, a nosy colleague likely will be trying to read the papers on your desk, or craning their neck in order to glance over your shoulder and inspect the pictures on your cubicle wall.

If any of your desk drawers are open, it’s practically guaranteed that they’ll try to take a little peek inside. After they’ve done all this, questions like “What’s that?” or “Who’s that?” often follow.

While it’s nice to be able to have personal belongings on or near your desk, if you want to keep the Nosy Ones out of your affairs, you’ve got to hide any evidence that you have an extensive personal life outside of work.

Keep personal pictures and documents in a wallet, purse, or closed drawer instead, and if you really want to show them to someone, just pop them out temporarily. Of course, if one of your coworkers is being nosy about a work-related document, and it’s something that everyone’s allowed to see, give them a brief glimpse – this may even quench their thirst for knowledge for the time being. [Read: 5 unique lessons to deal with judgmental people]

#6 Limit social media contact

If a co-worker’s nosy in the office, be careful as to how many social networking platforms you add them to. People’s personalities outside of work usually aren’t that different from the ones they present there, so there’s a good chance that your co-worker will, at some point, be going through your Facebook and Twitter pages and looking at your YouTube history during their off time.

This will give them even more ideas when it comes to things to ask you about, if they haven’t already found out everything about you by scrolling through seven years’ worth of photos and creeping five of your best friends.

Don’t feel like you must refuse to add coworkers to social media altogether, but if a particular person is a bit of a snoop, limit the info they have access to by only adding them on one network, or setting them up with limited profile access *although, unfortunately, all sites don’t offer this option*.

If you’re afraid that you’re becoming the nosy co-worker yourself, or have even been told that you’re a bit too curious at work, use these as a reminder of what not to do if you want to avoid alienating your colleagues.

[Read: How to make small talk with someone without feeling awkward about it]

If you can keep these six strategies to deal with nosy co-workers in mind, you can continue to play nice with them without running the risk of them finding out about your sister’s best friend’s boyfriend’s mother’s dog’s birthday, and openly amassing enough info about you to write a tell-all book about your life!

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The editorial team of LovePanky comprises relationship experts and real-life experts that share their experiences and life lessons. If you want the best love ad...