This post is brought to you by Deseret News. View the original post here.
I’ve been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for two years and I’ve recently moved into a new ward. My husband is not a member, so he typically does not attend church with me and my three young children. Before meetings, after meetings, even during meetings — I get a lot of questions from other members about my family, my job, my husband, where we’re from, am I a stay-at-home mom? How do I afford a nanny? When did we get married? Will we have more children? What am I going to do to get my husband baptized? Etc., Etc., forever.
My hypothesis is that people just want to get to know me, but the questions feel intrusive and inorganic. I just want to yell, “None of your business!” but that wouldn’t be very Christ-like.
How can I be friendly but still maintain my privacy at church? I wish people would just know not to bombard other people with questions, but that seems too much to hope for. Any advice?
— Reached My Limit
Dear Reached My Limit,
It’s great that you’re giving fellow members the benefit of the doubt — “they just want to get to know me.” Because that is probably true. Members are constantly encouraged to shower new people with love and attention, and even though it’s not translating, assigning positive intent is the right move.
The first thing I would suggest is once you feel the conversation starting to get a little intrusive say something like, “I’ve been talking so much about myself — I’d love to get to know a little bit more about you, tell me about yourself?” This solution works for two reasons; one, you take yourself out of the hot seat and give the other person a chance to talk about himself or herself. And two, maybe after you know these members a bit more, the conversation will feel more natural.
My second suggestion — and this goes for everyone — is to first try discussing a neutral topic. After introducing yourself to someone, instead of launching into personal questions, you might say, “What did you think of the sweet messages shared during sacrament meeting?” This allows both people to engage on a meaningful level without delving into the private details of one another’s lives.
Lastly, I want to continue to encourage you to believe the best about these members. For many, it’s nerve-racking to approach a stranger. So let’s chalk the awkward conversations up to inexperience and nervousness and hope the two tactics I’ve listed above work!
As always, let us know how it goes.
Readers: How would you advise our friend? Have you ever been in this or a similar situation? Share your thoughts in the comments!