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How do you deal with nosy people?

Yesterday carrying a cheerful yellow potted Mum, I walked into Fred Meyer grocery store wearing a flippy, short skirt. I was returning the plant. Standing in line at the customer service desk, I was having fun chatting with the woman in front of me.

“Are you selling flowers?” an older man asked, rolling up in a store wheelchair. “I saw you come in with those flowers.”

Sigh. Must I give him an explanation? My patience was thin because I've been sick with flu/cold. Waiting in line was an ordeal.

It occurred to me that he watched me walk in, tracked my movement, and followed me. Creepy.

“I bought this plant yesterday,” I replied. "I’m returning it because I discovered I don’t have enough room in my flowerpots.”

“You have too many flowerpots!” he declared and abruptly wheeled away. He must have heard annoyance in my tone.

In retrospect, his question was funny. It reminds me of poor little flower girls in Charles Dickens' tales.

“Why do you ask?” is my usual reply.

Was I rude? How do you deal with nosy people?

LiterateHiker 9 Sep 5

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Personally I enjoy the opportunity to be as rude as I like. "Your opinion is neither needed or wanted" and "Don't you have a life of your own? Why are you concerned with what everyone else is doing?" Are two of my favs. People who don't know how to leave others alone annoy me to no end.


nope, you weren't rude at all. "why do you ask?" is a legitimate question, if uttered without malice.



In the most devious way possible. Give them so much info both true and false makes their head swim.


It depends on the nature of any given enquiry but in general if someone is just being nosey I tend to give the shortest most unhelpful answers I can. Or I just tell them to mind their own business 🙂


He is a lonely old man and was chatty. He probably has few people in his life to talk to. Even when I am in my worst mood, I always talk to old people. They miss company.


I guess that would depend on the vibes I was getting from the person, and probably my mood at the time. 🙂

I also have a t shirt that says " Do I look like a people person " ! Lol

Very funny!


It really depends on my mood. Sometimes, I will engage, sometimes I'll just smile and keep on moving. Sometimes, I'll just look at you and you'll be the one to keep moving, because you really want to.


Lets get back to the flippy short skirt. ☺


He just wanted to have a conversation. People are lonely. When I was a bank teller, older people would come in to the bank daily, just to get their balance and have a cup of coffee. It does not take much to just be kind to people. ❤️


He is a lonely old man and was chatty. He probably has few people in his life to talk to. Even when I am in my worst mood, I always talk to old people. They miss company.


I was having fun chatting in line with the woman in front of me.


That changes the scenario. I'd say you were good.


If I don't know who they are, I look at it as an opportunity to exercise my creativity. I make up extravagant lies, and start asking personal questions. YMMV I do amuse m'self. Heh.


I think old guy was just curious. I often try and chat with people in line. I try and find something in their food choice compliment. Like, that's a great beer, or those are a delicious fruit. I always get friend replies or a chuckle. It's just the way you approach a stranger. But then I read peoples faces if they obviously don't want to be bothered or in a big rush.


If I am at the store, which ever one I am in, I will ask questions to whomever is doing or has something interesting. Conversation is just a way to make contact, to show yourself your alive. Though many conversations go into the mundane at least you have shown someone they are alive, I always feel that one should be kind. As I walk around town there are many people who call me by name, I have no idea who they are, but I always return at least a smile.


I have a three-phase approach:

  1. A polite but brief response
  2. Pretend I didn’t hear the question
  3. Explain that I just don’t feel very chatty
    If all else fails, I get up and walk away.


An excellent, concise summary. Thanks.


I keep my life as flat and dull as possible so that nobody cares

R we twins ??? Hahahahahah !

@Pralina1 for your sake, I hope not


I don't see anything wrong with your response. Nor is it inappropriate that there was annoyance in your voice. His question was impertinent.

Where does the short skirt come into it? Actually it gave me what Daffy Duck once called "pronoun trouble". I wondered at first why you were returning a skirt you were wearing ... and why you were carrying a flower while doing so 😉


I just stare, without blinking.


He was trying to chat you up, get a better look at that short skirt. 🙂
Those lines suck. I like people but some still strike me weird, then I may come off as rude.


I would say you were polite enough you're standing in a return line.

Thank you.


Unless I've made eye contact with someone, including a smile or something similar, I count all conversation as nosey unless someone is introducing themselves for some legitimate reason. I respond with one syllable words. Sometimes one syllable sentences.

I have neighbors with whom I'm on that basis after over a year. I just have nothing to say to them. I keep to myself and I wish they would do the same.


"Abner! There's something strange going on at the Steven's residence!"


"Why are you concerned, is something wrong?" Usually that throws them off enough they walk away or the tone of the conversation changes to being friendlier.


I like talking to everybody, so maybe I am that nosy person to someone else...I am genuinely curious about people I see out and about...I usually can tell if they want to be left alone, and I am never rude, so if others treat me the same, I have no problem and actually like to engage...

Not having access to the tone of his or your voice, body language, and other visual and audio cues, I have no idea if he or you were rude, except from your own perception that you iterated...knowing you, you probably responded accordingly to his comments, so don't worry about did what you needed to do...


I don't mind much . Some x people lonely and just want to talk . I don't mind ?
If something they ask is too personal for my standards , I just say " ah , too long to explain , some other time / some other talk "?


A beautiful woman with a naturally warm way about her standing in line with flowers wonders why a person would want to strike up a conversation...

It is because your a beautiful woman that is a warm personality. Everyone wants to be around that - to engage it in some way if only to brighten their day for awhile and share the good vibe. I get it: that can totally be draining and feel like an imposition. Frankly, it is.

First step is to understand that, most likely, that is what is occurring. From there, go with what suits you as a response. It'll be correct once you understand why it is a happening.


Thank you! I appreciate your sweet, thoughtful reply.

@LiterateHiker bonus - it is actually true!

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