People used to say that honesty is the best policy, but I believe that discretion is the new honesty.
I recently updated my resume to only list my city and State, instead of my full address. While I never felt fully comfortable putting my home address on my resume, it had seemed like the customary thing to do. This is changing.
I wish we lived in a world where it was safe to make small talk with strangers and innocent questions would not result in stalkings or violence. I have tried to live by my grandfather’s policy “Be happy as honestly as you can.” For me part of happiness is being safe and it is not safe to answer all the questions which people feel entitled to ask.
Recently, Jill Gutowitz shared her experience being mined for personal information by her Uber drivers. Yes, that is plural, but this occurrence isn’t limited to ride sharing as Lily Evans shared. A woman alone can (unfortunately) expect a barrage of questions from strangers. From: “Where are you going?” to “Do you live around here?” or my least favorite “Do you have a boyfriend?”
When I was single, it was incredibly frustrating for me to either a) deal with the next slew of questions that came when I answered honestly or b) lie about having a boyfriend to benefit from his ‘imaginary cloak of protection’.
I don’t want to lie. I don’t want to feel like I have to lie for my safety.
There are a few stock phrases that I would like to share in hopes that they can help someone else faced with this tricky situation.
- That’s a personal question, why do you ask?
- I don’t give out personal information like that, one can’t be too careful these days.
- You ask a lot of questions.
While I would like to add responses such as “That’s none of your business,” I have found that this can irritate the other person and can escalate the situation and end up in them calling you names.
My first preference is to avoid a nasty encounter in the first place. If I had to pick a second preference I’d rather be called a name than get stalked. Ultimately, your safety is worth the momentary discomfort of defending your private information.