Before asking intrusive questions provide a simple warning
Q: People in your columns often cannot believe how rude and intrusive someone's questions are. I am one of the people who asks these questions. I don't mean to be rude. I am just very open and direct, and asking questions is how I show my interest in someone.
The trouble is that what one person finds off-putting, many will find a great way to move past shallow filler conversation. I value this part of my personality, as it has enabled me to quickly make friends and get to know people at a deeper level.
I don't, however, want to make others uncomfortable. Is there something I can say to let people know they are free to tell me if something is too personal? Should I just accept that I will occasionally rub someone the wrong way?
Bored by Social Niceties
A: "(Nosy question)? If that's too personal, then you can tell me to stuff it." People do have different privacy thresholds, so I won't suggest you develop a whole new restrained personality, but it would be an act of kindness either to avoid the handful of hot topics people keep writing to me about, or to flag them upfront — as in, "This is a taboo topic so shut me down as needed," followed by your question.
I wonder if it's possible to come up with a universal Don't Ask List. I'll start: "Are you pregnant?"