We’ve all been around annoying question-askers. (“Do you know why I pulled you over?”) They mean well, but they can’t seem to calibrate when they’ve overestimated our interest. At some point in such conversations the tipping point occurs, and it dawns on us that we’re being pushed, rather than being invited, into further conversation. I know some really nice people who ask way too many questions–or they bore into areas I’d rather not address. A friend of mine has had to lovingly remind his wife from time to time, “Honey, you’re interrogating.”
Am I Being Annoying?
But enough about them. What about me? Do I push some people to the point of annoyance by drilling too hard–or in the wrong areas? Do I repel them? (Isn’t this the fourth question in a row?)
Here’s a question which helps me scout out a situation so I don’t become the annoying question asker: “What questions really wear you out these days?”
Invite Further Conversation
I was with a couple not long ago, and she was on the back side of a terrible bout with breast cancer. We hadn’t seen each other for a while, so over dinner we began to talk. I said, “What questions really wear you out these days?” She exhaled and thanked me for the question because it was empathetic. While grateful for people’s interest in her condition, she was in a season of bracing because she was incessantly answering the same questions. I told her that I understood, and we shifted gears into other life-giving subjects.
So, when you’re unsure of how close you are to the edge of becoming annoying, just ask. It can clear the air and lead you where you really want to go.