Some cringe-worthy moments seem better suited to TV sitcoms, but they can happen in your family: an uncle or aunt who hasn't seen you in a while will ask probing questions about your career or job hunt. Whether you're employed full-time or you're someone who has been on the search for a while, it can be an uncomfortable, and sometimes just plain inappropriate, situation. Here are some ways to avoid the chitchat — gracefully, of course.
- Anticipate the questions. Knowing your family, try think of the most common questions that will be asked so you're prepared with answers. If you heard, "So when are you taking over that CEO position?" last year, then chances are you'll hear it again this time around.
- Use humor. It is, after all, the best medicine, especially if you can find the right time to use it. For instance, if someone asks if you've had any luck with the job hunt, then you can respond with something along the lines of "You mean in this booming economy?"
- Initiate the conversation yourself. If there's someone you just know you can't avoid who will ask improper questions, then start the conversation yourself. That way, you can at least have some control over what subjects you talk about. Be sure to follow up with questions to avoid being on the answering end of too many inquiries.
- Have a back-up plan. Does your cousin or sibling share in your discomfort? Set up a game plan so that if, for example, you give her a raised-brow look, she'll come over to save you from five more minutes of awkward conversation with someone else. Try to also have an excuse handy when you want to exit the conversation: "Did I hear mother say she needs help in the kitchen?"
- Change the subject. If all else fails and you can't avoid the chitchat because you're seated next to the probing person at dinner, then there's nothing wrong with giving a few short yes or no answers and politely saying that you'd rather talk about something else. Turn the conversation back to him by, for instance, asking how his latest trip was.
Have any tips of your own? Share them in the comments!