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How do I deal with a busybody?

March 20, 2019

Dear Someone Else’s Dad,

I have a client who has taken a nice interest in my career. She’s a woman in her 50s, and I’m a woman in my 20s. Our earlier small talk had been pretty bland, but over time she started to ask lot of questions about my personal life, which I was initially open about, particularly about how I moved here to be with my boyfriend. Now every time she comes to our office, she asks with enthusiasm about when we’re getting married, how we’ll handle our careers if we ever have children, etc. The questions seem intrusive, and in a recent meeting, she announced, looking at me: “I think someone will be having a wedding soon!” And I'd never told her anything like that!

Thanks, Private Polly

 

Dear PP,

Oh my God, congrats on your wedding!!! When's the happy day?? Sorry. You should talk to your client right now since her blurting out something specific about you betrays a confidence. Just be careful about putting her on the defensive and making it sound like you're blaming her. Maybe look at the issue as a two-way street. For example, you can say, “When you hinted about a wedding--which I never mentioned--in the meeting, I felt hurt because I try to keep my private life private at work. Can I ask a favor? Can we both agree that we won't share personal stuff we've told to each other to anyone else at work?" Then afterward be careful about divulging much when she asks personal or intrusive questions. (“You know, I’d rather not get into personal stuff. Thanks.”)

Best, SED

 

 

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