It’s great to form friendships with your coworkers. Work friends are important! Research indicates that work friends help to make us more productive, focused, happy, healthy, and engaged.

But even though you might be close with your coworkers, there still might be things going on in your life that are private and that you’d rather not discuss. So, what should you do when you’re asked a personal question that you don’t want to answer? Saying something like “I don’t want to answer that” would certainly be direct, but it might also come across as harsh and unfriendly.

Here’s a different approach. It’s an easy two-step process that author Laura Dorwart says will allow you to dodge your coworker’s question without hurting their feelings.  

Step 1: Provide a short, generic, “non-answer”

Answer your coworker’s question by saying something so short and generic that it actually tells them nothing. Here are a few options:

  • “We’ll see!”
  • “Time will tell.”
  • “Oh, you know how it goes.”
  • “Who can say?”
  • “It is what it is.”
  • “Fine.”

Step 2: Pivot

The next step is to quickly change the subject by asking your coworker a question about an unrelated topic. It could be about work, what their plans are for the weekend, or how their dog is doing. It doesn’t really matter. You’re just trying to redirect the conversation.

Now here’s an example of both steps being used together…

  • Coworker: “How are things going with your relationship problems?”
  • You: “Oh, you know how it goes. Say, what are planning to order for lunch today?”

And that’s it! You have successfully avoided answering an awkward personal question without being rude or abrupt.

If you have tips or suggestions about other ways that this can be done, please feel free to share them in the Comments section below!

Dorwart, L. (2019, February 13). 17 amazing tricks for dodging unwanted questions. Best Life. Retrieved from: