Dinesh Divekar
Business Mentor, Consultant And Trainer
R B Yadav
Advocate & Management Consultant On Labour
Recruitment/talent Acquisition, Career Counselling
Learning & Teaching Fellow (retired)
Sr. Hr Executive @ Polymerupdate
Vaishalee Parkhi
Hr Consultant & Trainer
Anita P Panicker
Sr Hr Executive
Retired From Air India
Human Resource Professional
Purchase Executive In A Steel Mill
+8 Others


Earlier I was in different team and in my team there were all guys. The advantage of working with guys is that they aren't nosy and don't ask you personal question. But working with female colleagues can be a pain at times. Ofcourse we gel up and relate with same gender more compared to opposite gender but females can be nosy at times. Not all, but some of them. They want to know many or everything about you. I myself is female and no offence to other female in general. But I faced this with many of female employees in my current and previous organisation. They can go overboard by asking you personal question which you're not comfortable to answer. Are you married? And if you pause answering this they get it that you're divorced and they will have further question - why were you divorced? What is your age? Do you love your husband? Why aren't you wearing mangalsutra? Do you have a boyfriend? etc... And they have habit of bragging. I don't want to sound rude by telling them "no personal question" or "be professional". Because I am new there and they are working there before me. So I may need their help for work in future so can't afford to offend them... But their question can be irritating at times?

I like to be friendly with people. But some people just take advantage of this friendliness and if their comfort level increases with you they tend to ask you personal question. The day when I joined one lady started asking my age and martial status etc. And by my facial expression she learned that I am divorced so she said, I understood and her further question was - why were you divorced? I told her "No personal question pls" The next day she was reacting rudely and not helping me in learning my new work? It was very immature of her. Our TL are also not leading us properly. I don't want to go to HR for such small small matters. At times, I wouldn't mind to share my personal details to some extent but some females do lots of back-biting and badmouthing. But working with this type of team can be irritating. I am missing my old team with guys.
1st February 2013 From India, Ahmadabad
Dear friend,
I have gone through your post. It is unfortunate that you are facing this problem. The fault is with your HR department. In the induction itself they should have told to all the employees not to ask personal questions. In many companies this rule is maintained strictly. However, one can confide something personal on one's own.
There is nothing wrong per se in approaching HR. They should make policy on business etiquettes or office decorum.
1st February 2013 From India, Bangalore
I am fully with DVD--I think you surely need to approach HR.
But a word of caution: pl ensure that you DON'T give any impression that you wish to 'complain', but rather come for resolving a delicate issue. Any HR--with a semblance of decorum & caring for the good of the organization--will definitely help you out in handling the situation.
While I can't vouch for it, IN ALL PROBABILITY, the HR would have faced such situations earlier--either within your company or elsewhere--and they would be better placed to guide you in handling your's, since quite often, what works in one company MAY NOT necessarily work in another company.
All the Best.
1st February 2013 From India, Hyderabad
Being human tendency some of the guys working with you try to indulge in personal life of an Individual and in some cases it proves miserable to handle with the situation particularly in case of new joining. I am agree with the view put up by learned Forum Members and is of the opinion you have advised you HR to frame a policy to deal with this type of peculiar situation/questions.
R B Yadav
1st February 2013 From India, Mumbai
General indian mentality of asking. I being a guy many people ask me certain questions which pisses me off like your age, salary, marriage etc, feel to take a stone and crush their head.

And in your case its just ladies with their usual activities / nature of gossiping. As we all know how women love to gossip ;). And while working with colleagues its natural tendency to ask about some personal questions like where you live, what conveyance you use and as you know your colleague more either your interaction increases or decreases. Here the women who came to know about your divorce must be some local traditional women who doesnt know to value a persons privacy and where to stop. Here people have wild imaginations, and she must have imagined something wild about your divorce without even knowing actual reason, hence she must be avoiding you, traditional indian trends right from not giving widowed womens respect to all those superstitious beliefs. Best this is to do your work and ask for help from this site, and also convey a message to those people so that they know their limits.
2nd February 2013 From India, Madras
Do agree with the group. You need to professionally handle such situations.
In many cases even men are harassed in similar fashion, with questions like - oh you are separated, no children, why?
Professionalism in one's role only can handle such situations. In India, gossip and checking of details is a common practice. Handle with a smile and avoid with a smile. That's my advice.
2nd February 2013 From India, Bangalore
I think it would be inappropriate blaming the HR for not making policy, as this is very personalised and differs from person to person.
I would suggest a different way....as rightly pointed out above that these situations have to be handled and avoided with a smile (although it is unpleasant), merely un-answering the question or diverting the topic might also help. The wise person will understand he should not probe into such personal questions. Also you can keep some answer ready and tackle such situation diplomatically, I think it is more better than straightaway refusals as it will deteriorate your relations with the colleagues.
When you know these situations are bound to come, why not prepare for it and why to ruin your relations or the even the day ?
You may not agree with me, it is absolutely fine. But I just thought it from another angle.
My best wishes.
Vaishalee Parkhi
2nd February 2013 From India, Pune
When you are new you should have told yes married with no kids which would invite least questions.Even if anybody happens to come to home you can tell gone on tour.After your comfort level increases with 1-2 you may share personal matters but better keep it to yourself as i know girls cant digest secrets.Morever your status has to least to do with their friendship so why share that detail.HR must be knowing but i dont think they will be disclosing that status.So next time try not to feel uncomfortable & yes lies which dont harm anybody is reqd for tricky situations.
2nd February 2013 From India, Bangalore
Dear Anonymous,

Honestly no one has a right to intrude in some one else's personal life. No matter what.

At the same time what you said is also true. Females have a tendency to ask such questions and probe more on it to know more. If not tackled appropriately, they get offended very easily and that creates a problem in work.

If some one asks you a personal question next time, just smile to them and say,

"Sure we are friendly, but this is office. And I would really prefer to keep my personal and professional lives distinct so that I don't mix up the two and make a chaos. I hope you understand. But be least assured that if there would be something bothering me, I shall myself come to discuss with you."

That would be a prompt but a courteous reply rather than saying "Stay out of it".

Always remember that communication is the biggest key. It can both make you and break you. Always keep it sugar coated. And always have a smile to ensure them that you're actually being very humble in answering the way you did.

Hope it helped.
2nd February 2013 From India, Mumbai
This type of behavious are related to etiquettes/mannerisms. What HR will play in such circumstances? HR is not a police force to put a blanket ban on such attitudes. Collegues tend to know about others which are not required for them, like, curiosity to know others CTC, their personal matters, etc. It is better that one should not get tinged when another asks unwanted queries, just by pausing silence.
2nd February 2013 From India, Lucknow
In the UK, when personal questions are asked, and if they do not want to answer, they just touch their nose with their fingers. It means do not be "nosy". Like Swami Anubhavananda says in his lectures it is best to change the topic and completely avoid answering personal questions. Once, we start answering one question, the questions multiply.
2nd February 2013 From United Kingdom
When I face situations where I do not want to give out information, all I do is smile and ask the other person politely, "why do you want to know?" and in almost all the cases the question stops there and then or is diverted. I don't think your HR would be of much help.
Take care
2nd February 2013 From India, Delhi
I fully agree with Ankita, you will have to be refuse them politely. Just smile politely, ignore the question, and ask them a work-related question, but there are many who are over curious as if their world is dependent on your answer and they will not give up easily, If they press you, just say, "Thanks for the interest, but I prefer to focus on work while in the office."
Please remember you don't have to worry about what people think as we are just colleague's and it is best to make it known at the earliest.
2nd February 2013 From India, Mumbai
Gents also intrude and ask personal details at least from male colleaques but may avoid doing same with ladies.
These kind of situations are difficult to avoid as one comes across all types of colleagues.
I agree with most of what has been suggested and would like to suggest the following :--
1. If possible , do not allow emotions to show. So what ,so many people split.It is not a crime.
2.Try and answer with a smile and say "I am uncomfortable with this and request you not to broach this subject, even though I know that you mean well and are a well wisher."
3.Never breakdown. Be strong.Best is yet to come so never feel down in dump.
4.Be polite but avoid, if possible those who are in habit of asking personal questions.
5.First handle it youself. Approach HR only if can it becomes unmanageable.
Always remember THIS TOO SHALL PASS
Col.Suresh Rathi
2nd February 2013 From India, Delhi
Man by nature is a social animal (they live in groups). They just want to know about you. This is curiosity which is present in all human. I don't think one can neither survive nor succeed without divulging their marital status in any organisation.
May be asking questions on salary would be uncultured. Yet these are essential personal questions, which you can gently answer.
2nd February 2013 From India, Bangalore
Hi Friends,
I agree with Vaishalee Parkhi. You have to be very diplomatic in answering such question. Even a team leader may be very inqusitive in collecting your personal and professional information so his task of managing the team is simplified. Defferent person is to be handled differently and unless a TL gathers some personal information, his task of knowing each member of the team may not be over. Take it sportingly to avoid any tangle in the team and you will be comfortable. Share only what you are suppose to and keep your self esteem high always.
Ram Singh
3rd February 2013 From India, Mumbai
I fully agree with Vaishalee Parkhi and whenever some people ask about your personnel details, you have to be answer diplomatically and avoid it with smile .............it is the best way to avoid the situation.
4th February 2013 From Vietnam, Tây Ninh
Many members have given good practical suggestions. All that I can add is that donot show that you are irritated with such invasive queries. Some people get sadistic pleasure in seeing others irritated and try to rub salt to the wound. So, donot show them that you are irritated. Smile, divert the topic, ask some difficult work related questions to them so that they go away. If some times all this are not possible, tell them you will let them know the secret 'after wards'!
4th February 2013 From India, Madras
Hi Anonymous,
I fully agree with Vaishalee.She has given the best suggestion.Just smile away on some questions and if at all made to answer give some very vague answers while exploring the best way to change topic.Practising this for some time will send the right signal.I am telling you from my own experience.I am a bachelor and colleagues used to ask me why I am not marrying ? Do I have an unmarried sister ? Is there any other problem ? Are my parents demanding dowry ? (although they never).Am I not worried about who shall look after me in old age ? etc etc..The colleagues were otherwise helpful in work but could not stop probing my personal life.Then I decided to handle all this tactfully so that they are not hurt nor do I have to part with information which is not necessary for them.So try my trick.All the best !
4th February 2013 From India, New Delhi

I agree that ladies are bit curious as well as sentimental, be very inquisitive in collecting personal and professional information but they are not dangerous. Like you, I also worked for very long time with guys and very few ladies and now working with only lady staff. I being a lady, did not know how to handle ladies ??? Trust me, may be few might irritate with silly questions, but ladies are always co-operative, will come forward to help you in times of difficulties, they can very well understand your problems and try to save you from guys who tries to take advantage.

If you are comfortable you can share your feelings with one or two .. so that you will feel light to know you have someone to share.

Otherwise like suggested by many, politely you can show them that you are not comfortable with personal questions.

Gents also tries to collect personal details through others. Some will take advantage of the situation. I had my manager who tried to collect information about my relation with my husband through my other lady collegue !!!!!!!! though I had no family problems. In one of my office, married guys misbehaved with lady staff who were not married untill they were 29..30 years. Also some use to take advantage of lady collegues whose husband is away / abroad etc., I am not blaming the male gender, but trying to say that Good & bad are qualities of human not biased on gender.

So my dear friend, be relaxed..........enjoy working with new set up....

5th February 2013 From India, Bangalore
I absolutely agree with you that opposites attract, saying this I would like to reiterate that opposite gender gel well.Women have tendency to dig deep into ones personal matters. Let me tell you no one is perfect and you approaching HR requesting to frame some policy doesn't help.
Instead I would suggest moving forward not to share your status with anyone except the management. Ultimately its a democratic country and we have rights for privacy. As long as we are good at work, it shouldn't affect anyone's personal life.
So please go ahead and don't reveal your personal details to anyone despite you knowing what will happen.Even your colleagues shouldn't know about this. Rather yopu can tell that your husband is frequently travelling etc.
7th February 2013 From India, Coimbatore
This is one of the common issues with every one, irrespective of the male or female, but it is very much appreciated that you brought it up here.....

How much ever you control and become tough it is not possible to avoid such irrelevant questions, as some people are more interested in others lives than their own!!

Suggestions : Always answer in one words, like yes, no, good, okay,

2) start taking the excuses and avoid such questions completely like, i have some work, have to make a call, need to go to loo, i am concentration on work,

3) always give the positive replies so that they never get the chance to cross question you. This also make them feel a kind of jealous or feel complexity issues, but be bold in answering them..... just know, that telling that u r doing perfect does not make you tell lies, afterall they are just the perceptions and not the facts......

never share your personal matter with any one unless it is the person who is your close friend or the best friend and people who already know well and very close relatives........ for others, it is not Ramayan or Mahabharatha to give them the pravachanas !!.........

4) always change the subject and always discussion anything and every thing to chat execet each other personal lives and lives of others, never involve a person in a chat, and make it a discussion, adopt a topic and argue on it, this helps the relations hips more matured and enhances the knowledge.......

5) if they still continue to disturb you, start asking cross question in the manner they ask and be tough and bold in asking the......

6) if they still disturb you after all the above practices, just avoid them, if that does not give you peace

7) the last resort would be dandam dasha gunam bhaveth, tell on their face not to ask such question which has nothing to do with them, and they are neither your supporters nor your people who undertake yours and your family responsibilities...... and it will be good for both of you to be quite and never bring up any ones personal matters n to light as it has nothing to do with any of you...... neither i am interested in listening to yours nor interested in sharing mine........

8) always try to ask them tough questions, regarding the jobs they do, so that you will have control on their emotions protecting yourself...... always make them research on asking them what they do not know and they are not good and bad at...... this rather helps you both positively in a learning way........

9) lastly, you must make up mind not to get disturbed because of the people who are hardly related to you, never let you mind pre -occupy and as well as think upon such feelings brought in because of others questions......... infact it is your WEAKNESS, you must not encourage your weakness, try to avoid taking things seriously when it comes to your emotional disbalances..... you must grow up in such cases, so that you never get a chance to be hurt........

Wish you clamaness.........
8th February 2013 From India, Bangalore
If you really intend to improve by yourself to become strong emotionally, here is just an attempt to it, go through the attachment and spend some time on it, and understand well, and do never fail to practice it sincerely...... if you may require any further guidance or support or encouragement, we are always here ...... you may contact me too through the email if you need.....
The attachment contains the pdf file of an workshop material on emotional intelligence, very easily and simply put, and contains very less pages, so you may spend time on and become strong......
Wish you have a nice day and better start..........
12th February 2013 From India, Bangalore

Attached Files
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File Type: pdf emotional-intelligence.pdf (2.83 MB, 121 views)

Those material you have are so useful. I have read that material you have attached, really very helpful and well explained, good for starters..... nijavaaglu bahala upayoga agathe, shradhe irbeku ashte.......
12th February 2013 From India, Bangalore
It is very interesting to read about the various views .I have a question for all of you.
Can anyone will tell what they don't want to tell, no matter how talented the other person is.
Honestly, every body will have our own secrets. Just recollect our first day in a college or a new class.
Work place is not that very difficult to manage, after all we are well seasoned.
Remember, God will not give anything we cant handle.
With thanks & regards,
13th February 2013 From United Arab Emirates, Dubai
Dear Elizabeth,

Honestly you have raised a nice question.

Sure we all do have secrets that we seldom share with all.

One need to understand that while asking questions to someone one should not overstep. For example - though it is not a secret but it sounds too rude to ask a male about his salary and a female about her age. Yes, as friends we do ask those personal questions to our peers and buddies. But if someone is not comfortable, we should refrain from asking such questions, shouldn't we?

Another thing as you named it "Secret" it can be revealed and/or shared only with choiced people of our life. And honestly it should come from the person and should not be a forced or tell me about it kind of thing.

If one has built up a rapport and if one is comfortable sharing, no one stopped him or her... But what disturbs a lot is someone is new in your group/workplace/building or wherever. Sure one is conscious to know him/her but in doing so one over steps and asks personal questions which can't be answered to anyone you meet in your life. And the most dreaded of all - if one don't answer, people assume and conclude in their own way. 50 stories by 50 people on 1 unanswered question and none close to the actual fact....

Hope it answered your query
13th February 2013 From India, Mumbai
Dear Ankita,
Many thanks for your reply.
We do really want others not to interfere in our affairs. But in reality it is not so and we have to
These kind of embracing questions are not new to us, and we face in every walk of like and over a
period of time we will get used to, and I admit there are very few questions still haunt and hurts.
Best way to avoid keep yourself busy and ignore stupid questions and anticipate and accept when you are changing jobs you have to go through this.
13th February 2013 From United Arab Emirates, Dubai
Dear Anonymous,
I highly appreciate to share this question.
Definitely everyone analysed & added their valuable suggestions.
But, dear gist is that --- leave the past, LOVE yourself, BELIEVE in yourself. You will automatically feel secure for yourself & boost confidence level.
You must be CONFIDENT & face situation tactfully.
nobody have right to ask you personal questions & don't share it at all. Never mix your personal & professional life together. People may take disadvantage of it whether being male or female.
Be strong.
wish you peaceful mind.
13th February 2013 From India, Nasik
Dear friend,
After writing the post, you could get several comments, viewpoints etc. Did it satisfy your requirement? How you could stop the personal questions by your female colleagues? How did you handle the situation?
We will be happy if you could provide some feedback.
4th March 2013 From India, Bangalore
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