I’m Bringing Nosy Back!

Published February 25, 2013 by Maryanne

old-fashioned-service pear tree

Me, wishing people would take the time to communicate properly! (Photo by Darlene Foster)

For those of us in our 40s or 50s, we may have had a nosy aunt who asked us all kinds of annoying questions like, “When are you going to get married?” “Why do you wear your hair that way?” or “Did you gain/lose weight?”

It may have been so annoying back then, but nowadays having a nosy person around would be like a breath of fresh air. Seriously.

I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times — people today are just too self-absorbed. We should all learn from our elderly aunts of yesteryear — asking each other questions isn’t a bad thing!

Now, I don’t mean going overboard. There is a type of prying that is totally uncalled for. I would never, ever ask someone when they’re getting married, if they plan on having kids, or how much money they have in the bank.

But sometimes a sincere “And how are YOU doing?” would mean the world to a lot of people.

Give and take is called a CONVERSATION.

There are just too many people in this world that choose to babble on, about themselves. When I was in therapy, my therapist said to me, “You’re right. You know one time I was talking to a friend and I got off the phone realizing I talked about myself too much and never even asked the other person how she was doing.”

Yeah, bingo!

One too many times I’ve been trapped in conversations where people just go on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on, without coming up for air. I have a relative who once talked for 50 minutes non-stop about a simple operation that could have been told briefly in less than 10 minutes.

This is why I dread events. It drains your soul when you’re stuck listening to someone and not getting a word in edgewise.

But what is even worse, is when you DO talk and the other person either: 1. changes the topic back to him/herself or 2. has to one-up everything you said.


I get in situations like that, and I’m secretly imagining the old episodes of “All in the Family” where Archie Bunker is pretending to take a noose and strangling himself when Edith goes into yet another one of her long-winded stories. But the sad news is, not everyone is as charming as Edith Bunker!

This saying is so true, “If you are doing all the talking, you’re boring someone.”

Do you want to stand out from the rest? Do you want to be truly unique? Then ask questions. Good ones. That is how someone will remember you as a “good person” and not someone to be avoided or dreaded.

In all my life as a journalist, I’ve never had an interviewee tell me they didn’t want to answer a question. No one ever said to me, “No comment.” Because my questions are thoughtful and non-intrusive. In fact, many famous people told me some great stories “off the record” because I have a welcoming attitude that makes people feel comfortable and want to share! And that is definitely a good thing.

No, no one wants to be that nosy aunt, but let’s all make a little more effort to make conversation what it should be, so everyone involved feels a sense of win/win.

I feel that we need to bring “nosy” back in a similar fashion — an upgraded positive, modern way. When you ask someone a question about him or herself, you can make him/her feel like a star! Remember being a child? We’d ask each other cool things like, “What did you dream about last night?” or “What is your favorite color?” or even “What zodiac sign are you?”

People should be able to leave an event feeling refreshed, happy and ecstatic, and a sense of friendship/family. Not drained by a know-it-all who doesn’t know when to shut up.

Take some time today to ask others questions. You may be pleasantlyΒ  surprised by the results!

23 comments on “I’m Bringing Nosy Back!

  • My mom would talk non-stop on the phone for 30 or 40 minutes at a time, but think she did it out of loneliness more than anything. She would talk about anything including telling me who took the trash out at her work. She spent the last 30 years of her life by herself, so just enjoyed having someone to talk to. I felt bad about getting off the phone, knowing she had a lot more to say.

  • Great post Maryanne! I’ve definitely both suffered through what you describe and I am man enough to admit that I’ve been guilty of going on and on myself >.<

    I make a point to ask people about their day, they're health, their hobbies, it's fun and it feels good πŸ™‚ Plus it's only when we open our ears and hearts that we can learn something new! Back and forth is best πŸ™‚


  • Bring back the noise – so true! I love talking with people (instead of to people) but where I am currently living there is an overabundance of people who spend hours talking about themselves and I’m not sure why 😯 When I do say something (if I haven’t forgotten what I was going to say while waiting patiently) they 1. changes the topic back to him/herself or 2. has to one-up everything you said. – ARGH! I’m either going to have to talk louder or put up with it and say nothing…

    • Dianne, I think some people just have zero social skills. I call them “socially spastic.” I feel your pain. When I get stuck with these types it’s like, “Hey, am I a part of this or am I invisible?” I actually told one person, “It’s not all about you” — I just couldn’t take it anymore! Didn’t change her though … kept going back to the same autopilot in Kmart routine. URGH!

  • THis is cute, I get what you mean. Seems people are just too busy to have conversations anymore. I find I don’t chat much with people because everyone always seems so rushed and I certainly don’t want to be a time waster for someone, but I always love it when someone strikes up a conversation with me.
    How are you today? No, really – HOW ARE YOU?

    • Now that is a great point! But are they really rushed or just waiting for their turn to talk, ha-ha! I feel rushed in conversation because a lot of people can’t wait listen to a story without interrupting. Except for my husband and certain friends/clients I feel that most people don’t even know my true personality because I refuse to engage with a lot of people because they are just not fun to have a conversation with πŸ™‚

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