Intrusive People

Whatever the reason (low attention span? media stimulation? individualism? social isolation? divisiveness?..) casualness has become the norm. Gone are the days of ¨Good Evening, Mr. Jones¨, to now ¨Hey buddy¨, and, with all this is an immodest loosing of talk and idol talk. How do you respond to intrusive people who act as though almost any topic can and should be discussed?

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You can politely say I’d rather not hear about that. I don’t think impolite talk is on the same level as saying hey buddy, though.


This has more to do with how well you know someone. The difference between addressing a friend and an acquaintance.

What exactly is being discussed?

I’d probably be polite and dismiss my self and move on .Media has a way of discussing everything under the sun,few brakes and then listeners follow suit .

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A neighbor who is only an acquaintance wants to discuss political issues. Perhaps they like to debate or they want to know what your positions are.

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Ugh, don’t get into politics with a neighbor. If they say “did you see so and so say this and that?” just politely say “yeah isn’t that something?” and then change the topic fast.


Language and social norms shift over time. If my neighbor saw me and said “good day, Mr.
(Last Name)” I’d find it incredibly weird and stilted. I’d wonder why he was being so formal.

That said, if your neighbor is trying to draw you into a political debate or is oversharing stuff you’d rather not hear, just say something vague and change the subject. If your neighbor is a reasonably social aware person, they’ll pick up that you’re not interested in debating politics or hearing about their carbuncle.


I would first take the USCCBs “Civilize It” pledge. Study the resources. Let your neighbor know you are committed to dignity beyond debate. Open a dialogue


The answer to your “problem” is childishly simple, easy and obvious. Just tell him CLEARLY and UNAMBIGUOUSLY that you most certainly do not wish to discuss such topics with him under any circumstances, never ever, no way, no how, and walk away without saying a word if he persists. Don’t beat around the bush, don’t be subtle, don’t assume he can or will read between the lines or see what you think must be bleeding obvious.

Do not explain why you don’t want to discuss these topics with him. Explanations never, ever add more to the simple word “No”. Never, ever let him bait you into saying even a single word on these topics. Clam up and don’t let yourself be drawn in.

Otherwise, you are a willing party to the discussion, and any problem you have with that is entirely of your own making.

There have been times when I’ve point blank told people something is my business, not theirs, with those words (“I’m sorry, that’s my business,” where I may or many not add “not yours,” depending on how invasive they’ve been).

As to things people say in, for example, a workplace setting that are inappropriate, I’ve said with a smile “hey we’re supposed to keep this safe for work,” or even “hey I thought this was a family place!” With a smile.


I think that’s a bit harsh, to be honest. Especially with a neighbor. If need be just flat out say “I don’t really like discussing politics.”


Not harsh at all, nor at all impolite. Actually prevents a good deal of harshness down the line.

I’ve used this tactic when confronted with political talk a million times: just say “I hear you” or “i understand.”

FDR said “I understand” all the time.
The former governor of NY george pataki used to say “I hear you” constantly. Both statements are totally noncommittal and mean absolutely nothing without being rude. People often misinterpret “I hear you!” As agreement but all it literally means is that you hear the speaker.


That’s partly cultural as well, we have neighbours who are fellow Russians like my wife, but they are from the Asian parts of Russia and respect to the elderly is drilled in and when the lockdown was ongoing at one point the daughter who is in her 20’s came to the door and asked my wife did anyone want any help doing shopping as my wife and I and were both at work. She asked in Russian and English and I can’t really reproduce the Russian equivalent but it was more or less to the effect of, ’ Would the honoured head of the household require assistance’ meaning my father. She calls older people sir automatically and my brother-in-law did it with me at first till I told him to please stop it after a bit. I call customers at work sir and madam which is becoming dated. I have never had a neighbour I’d want to do political debates with.


I also think this is a bit extreme. While you may want to do this, you do not need to come out and say any of this. There are ways to let the neighbor know you aren’t interested without being so harsh.


A very direct approach (“no, I don’t want to talk about that with you”) that bypasses subtler attempts to get the point across is going to be interpreted by a lot of people as abrasive. I would at least try gentler means first. You don’t want to make things unnecessarily awkward with your neighbor.


I think you could say something like "oh I only discuss politics with my ____ "(bartender, barber, shrink, party boss, etc). Said with a smile. Repeat as necessary.


Yeah, that’s kind of why I like saying “I hear you!” a lot - it’s not abrasive, just noncommittal.

I save “that’s my business” for stuff that’s really over the line or from total strangers. I had a large bandage on my hand once and a store clerk (total stranger) asked me how I’d gotten it. That got an “I’m sorry that’s my business” but I admit I really don’t like saying that.

The correct answer to any question about bandages, black eyes or casts is simply: “Bar fight.” :wink:


The funny thing is I’ve actually said that, usually so deadpan they believed me. I once said “a biker attacked me.”

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