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How To Answer The Awkward Questions In Family Gatherings

How To Answer The Awkward Questions In Family Gatherings

There is nothing better than having family reunions on special occasions. We all love our families but sometimes we are hesitant about attending such gatherings because of the awkward questions that accompany them.

Nearly no one can escape from such embarrassing questions. When I was single, my Aunt would pester me with, ‘Why are you still single? Are you being too choosy?’; Now that I have a boyfriend, the question becomes ‘When are you getting married?’.  Next it will be “When are you gonna have kids?”.  As it turns out, you’re not alone.  These types of questions are a thing that all families (big or small) share.

When Your Answer Can’t Save You From The Embarrassing Moment…

The worst case is when you refuse to answer their questions, and they comment on your behavior or attitude. Saying that it is “none of your business” might be the simplest answer but they may probably think that you are impolite and disrespectful. In the end, none of us want to create barriers within our family relationships.

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But giving a brief answer doesn’t always work. ‘I don’t have any plans on this’ is a rather vague answer, and not everyone understands you are actually saying ‘please don’t ask anymore for God’s sake’. Instead, they might keep asking more! You will soon realize how exhausting it is to answer all of their endless questions.

You Can Gain The Upper Hand By Asking This Question!

The more effective way to deal with these questions is to first figure out their intentions. People never ask a question without any intentions. Asking about their intentions can reverse your position, from a passive role as you used to play to a rather active one. With a simple twist, you can become the one in control of the conversation.

Flipping the question around is one of the best ways to figure out their intentions while avoiding misunderstandings:

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Why are you still single? Are you being too choosy?
You: Are you worried that I might be lonely?
When are you getting married?
You: Are you concerned that I am waiting too long?

Very quickly, you’ll be able to discern just what your relative really wants to know.  Those who ask with a kind intention may simply be expressing their concerns, allowing the conversation to flow into a smoother and more constructive path. Even if they are just being nosy or really intended to embarrass you, this technique will allow you to stay in control of the conversation and deflect the focus of attention.

But be aware of your tone and body language. Sometimes the awkward questions they ask might irritate you. But you need to take a deep breath and be calm when you respond so that you don’t sound defensive or confrontational. Don’t make others feel like you are challenging them or giving them a hard time.

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How To Give Further Response After You Know Their Intentions

Crack A Joke If They Are Nosy

Some people are just being nosy. They don’t really care as much as you think, which means you can probably just crack a joke or say something irrelevant when they ask questions that you’d rather not  answer. Most of them will stop asking when they can’t get what they are looking for.  To move the conversation forward, why not start discussing your interests?  Recent research has proven that it’s one of the best ways to escape from an awkward situation.[1]

Take The Initiative To Share If They Try To Connect

Some ask questions out of kindness and genuine caring. There are some family members that you seldom see so sometimes they might want to break the ice with you by asking some questions. They might not know that these questions are embarrassing for you.  Why not take the initiative to share something about yourself instead?  By taking the reigns, you can steer the conversation in a direction you want, deftly stepping past the sensitive subjects.

Focus Your Time on The Right People

You might not want to admit it, but let’s face it: some of our family or relatives do love to embarrass or irritate us.  While we don’t get to choose who our family members are, we do get to choose what to focus our time and attention on.  Knowing a relative’s conversational intentions will help you to gain better control of yourself and be calmer, allowing you to avoid falling into the trap of taking what they say too personally.  If you can take control of the conversation and not allow things to irritate you, then you can stop things in their tracks before they escalate.

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If you find yourself dreading the next family gathering because of those questions your uncle is going to pester you with, don’t fret!  Stay calm, ask questions to understand their intentions, and take control of the conversation.  With practice, it will come so naturally that you won’t even realize you’re doing it.  Besides, what better people to practice on than your own family?  With this simple technique, you’ll be able to gracefully dance around any awkward situation, whether it’s during a family gathering or pretty much any social situation.

Reference

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Sheba Leung

Translator. Sport lover. Traveler.

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

How often have you said something simple, only to have the person who you said this to misunderstand it or twist the meaning completely around? Nodding your head in affirmative? Then this means that you are being unclear in your communication.

Communication should be simple, right? It’s all about two people or more talking and explaining something to the other. The problem lies in the talking itself, somehow we end up being unclear, and our words, attitude or even the way of talking becomes a barrier in communication, most of the times unknowingly. We give you six common barriers to communication, and how to get past them; for you to actually say what you mean, and or the other person to understand it as well…

The 6 Walls You Need to Break Down to Make Communication Effective

Think about it this way, a simple phrase like “what do you mean” can be said in many different ways and each different way would end up “communicating” something else entirely. Scream it at the other person, and the perception would be anger. Whisper this is someone’s ear and others may take it as if you were plotting something. Say it in another language, and no one gets what you mean at all, if they don’t speak it… This is what we mean when we say that talking or saying something that’s clear in your head, many not mean that you have successfully communicated it across to your intended audience – thus what you say and how, where and why you said it – at times become barriers to communication.[1]

Perceptual Barrier

The moment you say something in a confrontational, sarcastic, angry or emotional tone, you have set up perceptual barriers to communication. The other person or people to whom you are trying to communicate your point get the message that you are disinterested in what you are saying and sort of turn a deaf ear. In effect, you are yelling your point across to person who might as well be deaf![2]

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The problem: When you have a tone that’s not particularly positive, a body language that denotes your own disinterest in the situation and let your own stereotypes and misgivings enter the conversation via the way you talk and gesture, the other person perceives what you saying an entirely different manner than say if you said the same while smiling and catching their gaze.

The solution: Start the conversation on a positive note, and don’t let what you think color your tone, gestures of body language. Maintain eye contact with your audience, and smile openly and wholeheartedly…

Attitudinal Barrier

Some people, if you would excuse the language, are simply badass and in general are unable to form relationships or even a common point of communication with others, due to their habit of thinking to highly or too lowly of them. They basically have an attitude problem – since they hold themselves in high esteem, they are unable to form genuine lines of communication with anyone. The same is true if they think too little of themselves as well.[3]

The problem: If anyone at work, or even in your family, tends to roam around with a superior air – anything they say is likely to be taken by you and the others with a pinch, or even a bag of salt. Simply because whenever they talk, the first thing to come out of it is their condescending attitude. And in case there’s someone with an inferiority complex, their incessant self-pity forms barriers to communication.

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The solution: Use simple words and an encouraging smile to communicate effectively – and stick to constructive criticism, and not criticism because you are a perfectionist. If you see someone doing a good job, let them know, and disregard the thought that you could have done it better. It’s their job so measure them by industry standards and not your own.

Language Barrier

This is perhaps the commonest and the most inadvertent of barriers to communication. Using big words, too much of technical jargon or even using just the wrong language at the incorrect or inopportune time can lead to a loss or misinterpretation of communication. It may have sounded right in your head and to your ears as well, but if sounded gobbledygook to the others, the purpose is lost.

The problem: Say you are trying to explain a process to the newbies and end up using every technical word and industry jargon that you knew – your communication has failed if the newbie understood zilch. You have to, without sounding patronizing, explain things to someone in the simplest language they understand instead of the most complex that you do.

The solution: Simplify things for the other person to understand you, and understand it well. Think about it this way: if you are trying to explain something scientific to a child, you tone it down to their thinking capacity, without “dumbing” anything down in the process.[4]

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Emotional Barrier

Sometimes, we hesitate in opening our mouths, for fear of putting our foot in it! Other times, our emotional state is so fragile that we keep it and our lips zipped tightly together lest we explode. This is the time that our emotions become barriers to communication.[5]

The problem: Say you had a fight at home and are on a slow boil, muttering, in your head, about the injustice of it all. At this time, you have to give someone a dressing down over their work performance. You are likely to transfer at least part of your angst to the conversation then, and talk about unfairness in general, leaving the other person stymied about what you actually meant!

The solution: Remove your emotions and feelings to a personal space, and talk to the other person as you normally would. Treat any phobias or fears that you have and nip them in the bud so that they don’t become a problem. And remember, no one is perfect.

Cultural Barrier

Sometimes, being in an ever-shrinking world means that inadvertently, rules can make cultures clash and cultural clashes can turn into barriers to communication. The idea is to make your point across without hurting anyone’s cultural or religious sentiments.

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The problem: There are so many ways culture clashes can happen during communication and with cultural clashes; it’s not always about ethnicity. A non-smoker may have problems with smokers taking breaks; an older boss may have issues with younger staff using the Internet too much.

The solution: Communicate only what is necessary to get the point across – and eave your personal sentiments or feelings out of it. Try to be accommodative of the other’s viewpoint, and in case you still need to work it out, do it one to one, to avoid making a spectacle of the other person’s beliefs.[6]

Gender Barrier

Finally, it’s about Men from Mars and Women from Venus. Sometimes, men don’t understand women and women don’t get men – and this gender gap throws barriers in communication. Women tend to take conflict to their graves, literally, while men can move on instantly. Women rely on intuition, men on logic – so inherently, gender becomes a big block in successful communication.[7]

The problem: A male boss may inadvertently rub his female subordinates the wrong way with anti-feminism innuendoes, or even have problems with women taking too many family leaves. Similarly, women sometimes let their emotions get the better of them, something a male audience can’t relate to.

The solution: Talk to people like people – don’t think or classify them into genders and then talk accordingly. Don’t make comments or innuendos that are gender biased – you don’t have to come across as an MCP or as a bra-burning feminist either. Keep gender out of it.

And remember, the key to successful communication is simply being open, making eye contact and smiling intermittently. The battle is usually half won when you say what you mean in simple, straightforward words and keep your emotions out of it.

Reference

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