Intrusive Inquiries: How can you Escape Personal Questions?

Q: I am graduating from college and just got my first job. I am very excited about it, but whenever I tell anyone, the first thing they ask is If you don’t mind me asking, how much are they paying you? I don’t feel comfortable answering that question. How do I get out of the situation politely? Thank you.’

A: Ask them right back, “Gosh! Why do you ask?  I’m just so excited to be starting this great job. . .” and then go on and say something else about the job. It is only the most persistent person who will go back to the original question. If that happens, reply honestly, “Oh, I’m sorry, but I never talk about salaries and money.” and leave it at that, changing the subject so there is not an awkward silence.

Lending vs. Loaning: How do I Kindly Collect Money from a Friend?

Q: Recently I went on an overseas trip with a long time friend. She said that she could not afford to pay half of the hotel room we were sharing. I agreed to pay the entire amount myself. I also paid a rather large taxi expense. In addition, she only reimbursed me for part of her airline ticket; which I put on my credit card. The strange thing was, she bought a large amount of souvenirs; some were quite expensive. Am I wrong to feel upset about this? Any advice?

A: No, you are not wrong to feel upset about this. You offered to pay the hotel room; the taxi expense may have been a choice as well. But nowhere do you say you agreed to pay part of her airfare, too. It is fine to call her and say you were going over your bills and found she still owes you $X for her airline ticket. You can ask her if she wants a copy of the bill for her records. You needn’t bring up the souvenir shopping or other expenditures – just keep it upbeat and friendly and a reminder that she has an outstanding debt.

Property Privacy: What Can You do When Neighbors Expect to use Your Pool?

Q: Hello, We just moved to a new house with a pool and seem to have a little issue with the neighbor and their kids wanting (expecting) to be able to come over and use it. We work 7 days a week in the summer and want to be able to use our pool and backyard in private. There is a girl about the same age as our daughter that seems to be using her to get in both our pool and hot tub. I want a polite solution before we end up with tensions with our neighbors. I think the previous owners let them swim, but we are not willing to carry on that tradition.

A: This can be a sticky issue, and apparently is, but it requires some direct communication. Simply tell them that you have a liability issue with people using the pool when you aren’t home so have to ask them to not enter it or your yard during those times, and that when you do get home from work it is your mode of relaxation and not a time you want to have to be social. However, you can say, you would be  delighted to have them have a swim occasionally and will issue invitations when those times occur. They really can’t get huffy over being asked to respect your property and privacy, even if they are used to carte blanche from the former owners. They need to chalk it up to being lucky before, and find somewhere else to go now. This is not unreasonable of you at all.