If you ask someone a question or try to give them some advice and they answer with ‘it’s none of your business,’ it could mean that they are annoyed. This response is often used when someone becomes too inquisitive about another individual’s personal affairs.
Whether the response is considered rude depends on your relationship with the subject. For instance, being told it’s none of your business could be regarded as harmless when said by a friend but rude when told by someone you aren’t very close to.
If someone tells you something’s none of your business, they’re trying to let you know that the conversation is over. Depending on the tone of the conversation, they could either be subtly asking you to exit the conversation or switch to a different subject.
Try to look at things from their perspective
The first thing you’ll need to do when someone says it’s none of your business is to try and look at the situation from their perspective. You’ll need to analyze your questions and try to determine if you could be asking questions that the other person could consider too personal.
Various topics could be considered too personal. They include an individual’s financial, health, job, and relationship statuses.
Approaching these topics, especially when you ask questions that are too direct, could trigger the other individual verbal defenses leading them to tell you it’s none of your business.
The best way to communicate effectively is to understand their perspective, put yourself in the other person’s shoes, and ask yourself similar questions. If you find the questions invasive, then the chances are that the other person does too. This will help you understand them better to avoid taking things too personally.
Understand their emotions
If someone tells you that something’s none of your business, it could mean they are dismissive, annoyed, or it could be a joke. Regardless of the situation, the correct response often requires you to understand the person’s emotions.
If a friend tells you something’s none of your business, then it could mean that they are playful but subtly defensive. If they are someone in authority, then it could imply a dismissive attitude. If it comes from a stranger, then it means that they are annoyed with your line of questioning, and you could be invading their privacy.
Take some time and figure out whether the conversation is appropriate and whether the person it’s addressed to is fit to answer your questions.
However, all this depends on the context.
None of your business in various contexts and how to respond
As mentioned before, understanding what this statement means depends hugely on your relationship with the subject and the context of the conversation.
Here are a few examples that show how you’d react to none of your business in different contexts:
If you are investigating in the capacity of a law enforcer, you could disregard this response and continue with your line of questioning.
Officer: “Where were you between 9 and 10?”
Suspect: “It’s none of your business.”
Officer: “Sir, you have to answer the question.”
If it’s a workplace conversation involving employers and employees, then both of you need to re-analyze your questions and answers to determine whether they invade the other person’s privacy.
If your employee provides this answer to a question you asked, you’ll need to try and look at the situation from their perspective.
Ensure that you don’t ask prying questions and explain why it’s essential that they answer the question.
Stop and take a different approach if you feel they aren’t ready.
Employer: “Why did you report to work late?”
Employee: “None of your business.”
Employer: “Answering this question will help us determine whether we’ll be able to work with you again.”
If you are the employee asking your employer a question and they give you this answer, you’ve got to reassess the conversation and determine whether your question was legitimate.
If your questions are appropriate, concern your job, and need to be answered, then you’ll have to insist or use a different approach as dictated by protocol.
When it comes from a friend
As mentioned earlier, when a friend says it’s none of your business, they could be saying it jokingly; however, this doesn’t mean they are okay with the conversation. How you’ll proceed with the topic depends on how close your bond is.
If they are okay but don’t want to have that conversation, then the best thing to do would be to let go and let them tell you whenever they are ready.
If you are invested in the conversation and are interested in knowing more, you could ask once (later on) and see if they’ve changed their mind.
If the topic is something you need to talk about, and it could negatively harm your friend if it isn’t addressed, you’ll have to talk about it. However, you’ll have to come up with a different approach. One that’ll make your friend more comfortable to share.
Recognize their need for privacy and apologize
People are entitled to their privacy, and crossing certain boundaries could lead to unintended consequences. You may be trying to help, but it’s also good to understand helping out is a two-way process. You have to be willing to help, and your friend has to be ready to accept your help.
Avoid prying and apologize if you realize you’ve crossed a boundary.
Tell them that you are sorry if they felt like you were prying and that you were only trying to help because that’s what friends do.
You: “How’s your relationship with _?”
Your friend: (silence)
You: “Are you two okay?”
Your friend: “It’s none of your business.”
You: “I’m sorry if it seems like I’m prying; I only want what’s best for you. I hope you are doing okay. I need you to know that you can talk to me any time you have a problem.”
Let them share freely
If you apologize and your friend accepts the apology, the next step would be to give them a few minutes to think about whether they would like to share. You’ll need to allow them the chance to continue with the conversation or switch to a different topic.
If they choose to share, ensure that you listen and let them say what’s on their mind without interrupting.
They may decide to start the conversation with a different topic that may eventually boil down to your current issue. You’ll need to make yourself available throughout the entire process.
If they choose to share and give you the platform to contribute, you could start by asking open-ended questions that allow them to communicate freely.
Doing this makes the conversation seem less interrogative and allows them to get comfortable enough to share information that they feel they need you to know.
Ask at a later time
If they aren’t willing to share, then forcing the conversation could yield negative results. Remember that your friend could be giving you this response because they are too emotional or they aren’t willing to share at that particular time.
They could be experiencing conflicting emotions that they haven’t quite processed.
Pressing them for an answer could cause them to lash out, and this could create a rift between the two of you.
The best response in this scenario would be to give them some space to sort out their emotions.
Tell them that you’re there for them whenever they need you
Giving your friend some alone time is a great move. It shows that you trust that your friend is strong enough to go through whichever issue they are currently going through and that they’ll share whenever they are ready.
However, while it is the right thing to do, it’s not always the easiest. You may feel burdened with your friend’s suffering with every fiber of your body, looking to find ways to help them out.
All you need to do is assure your friend that you’ll be there for them whenever they need you.
You’ll need to check in on them regularly to see how they are doing. You could comfort them if they feel down and flow with the conversation if they choose not to engage in the topic. However, if they are affected and risk getting depressed, then you’ll need to intervene.
There are two ways you could help out. You could meet your friend and insist that you help them figure out what they are going through, or you could ask them to seek services from a psychiatrist.
Either way, you’ll have to tell your friend that they risk being negatively affected if they don’t deal with the issue.
Addressing a stranger
If you are addressing a stranger and they tell you that something’s none of your business, then the best thing to do would be to apologize, change the subject (if they are comfortable), or discontinue your discussion.
You may find yourself asking questions that others deem as nosy or inappropriate every once in a while. However, if this happens too often, it could indicate that you have a problem keeping boundaries. You’ll need to evaluate your questions and ensure they aren’t invasive. Also, learn how to apologize and respond by explaining your position and why you had to ask.