10 Tips When You Don’t Know How To Respond

It is very easy to find yourself in a situation where you don’t know how to respond. 

The person asking the question might be your boss, co-worker, or even just someone at the grocery store checkout line. The conversation may be about something that you are not comfortable talking about or answering for fear of offending them. 

Here are 10 tips on how to get out of these uncomfortable conversations without offending!

Be honest and upfront

If you don’t want to answer the question, but feel like they deserve an answer because of who they are or their position in your life, be honest and upfront about it. When someone asks me a question, I let them know that I don’t wish to speak about that subject and leave it at that. Sometimes people will push harder; if this happens, you can let them know that it’s personal and you do not feel comfortable talking about it. This is a great way to get out of an uncomfortable situation without offending!

Wait for the follow-up question

If you are in a conversation with someone who asks you something that makes you very uncomfortable, simply saying “I don’t want to talk about it” will not satisfy them. They may ask you another question, but if they seem satisfied with your response, their next question might be about something else entirely. In this case, pat yourself on the back for getting out of that one!

Use humor as an escape

If you can laugh at yourself and not take everything too seriously, this might be the perfect solution to your problem. It’s really easy for anyone a little bit uncomfortable to accidentally turn a lighthearted conversation into a serious one by answering in a way that makes it seem like they are annoyed. For example, if I’m at work and ask someone the time, and they answer “I’m not sure, I feel like everyone here is always late,” it’s clear that this person doesn’t want to talk about the current situation at work. If you cannot laugh at yourself or know when to cut off a conversation that has turned serious, avoid using humor as an escape route!

Ignore the question

Sometimes when you don’t know how to respond, you can simply ignore the question altogether. This might be particularly useful if it’s not a big deal whether or not you answer, and the person asking doesn’t seem exceptionally interested in your response. This is helpful because it saves both of you from an awkward conversation that neither of you wants to have.

Change the subject completely

If you don’t know how to respond, or simply do not want to answer the question, ask yourself “What else could I say instead?” There are plenty of things that you can talk about with this person; why limit yourself? For example, if someone asked me, “How do you like living in (the place where I currently live)?” instead of answering this question, I could explain that I’m looking to move out of the city. The conversation doesn’t have to be about me or even related to them for this trick to work!

Make up an answer on the spot

If someone asks you a question and doesn’t push for an answer, try making up something on the spot to respond with. They might not ask any questions about what you say, or if they do, just answer as you normally would. For example, I sometimes play/act as funny characters at my job (be it as a cashier or in a children’s play area), so sometimes people ask if I’m “on the job.” When this happens, I simply say “I’m working at another location today,” when in reality, I have no other job.

Ask for clarification

This tactic, also known as playing dumb or being vague, can be very effective. If you are not sure how to respond to the question because it’s unclear what they are asking, ask for clarification. For example, someone might ask “How do you feel about my presentation?” and when you answer with a simple “good,” there is no way to tell if you’re being dull on purpose. If someone wants a specific answer, it is best to clarify what they are asking about, rather than making it seem like you do not care enough to give them the time of day!

Avoid answering questions in general

This can be extremely effective in avoiding any questions that make you uncomfortable. Simply avoid answering any questions that come your way, and if it turns into an awkward situation where you feel like the other person is trying to get a rise out of you, change the subject or walk away!

Know when to quit

Some people are so uncomfortable with conversations involving their feelings that they would rather face public embarrassment than have to explain how they truly feel. In this case, it’s best to walk away from these types of conversations as soon as you can! This doesn’t have to be seen as rude, because those who are only interested in finding out how you feel can try a different approach by asking a less personal question. For example, if someone asked me if I thought they were doing a good job at their position, I could answer by saying “You seem to be getting the hang of things, but if you have any questions about your tasks, feel free to ask anyone around here!”

Keep your answers short and sweet

This is a good tactic for when you’re in a conversation with someone you don’t know very well, but it’s still polite to respond. For example, if someone asked me how I was feeling today, I could answer by saying “I’m pretty tired from working all last night.” Avoid using slang or other abbreviations, as these can be easily misunderstood.


There are times in everyone’s life when they don’t know how to respond. If you’re not looking for a response, these tricks might help you avoid an uncomfortable conversation! Use your knowledge wisely and remember that when in doubt, there are plenty of ways to get out of answering questions!

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