How To Say “None Of Your Business”

Conversational Skills: How To Decline A Request For Information

We’ve all been asked questions that invade our privacy.  I know a man who asks brazen questions, but he usually gets the information he wants because the people he asks reply automatically without thinking.  He will ask, “How much did you pay for that?”  “How much did you get paid last year?” “Why did you invite him to the reception?”  And they answer him.   His brazenness pays off.  If you’re asked to provide information that you don’t want to divulge, you have several options, depending on how polite you want to be.

You can do it with humor.  Here’s one:  “I’m going to have to take the 13th (Amendment) on that.”  Here’s another:  “I promised I wouldn’t tell anyone that except my parole officer.”

One of the very best ways to respond to a question that you regard out of bounds is with a question of your own.  Simply say, “Why do you ask?”  

Asking this question puts the other person on the defensive and gives you time to to think about how you can respond diplomatically.  

If you don’t want to break a confidence or reveal insider information, you can say, ” I’m not at liberty to say,” or simply “I’d rather not say.”  Othe phrases:  “I certainly would tell you if I could but I promised to keep it confidential.”

If you think the question is unwarranted, you can say “You don’t know me well enough to ask that” or “I’m afraid that’s none of your business.”


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