This is my newest pet peeve.
Someone asks me a personal question. I answer it. A few days later, she asks me the exact same question, and it happens over and over again. It’s not like a question where the answer changes over time, and she’s checking for updates. The answer remains the same, and I give her the same answer each time.
I know that people are preoccupied with their own lives, so I understand if you don’t remember something the first time I say it. But to ask the same question week after week? To the individual you’re asking, it looks like you don’t really care.
Back in college, a girl in my statistics class kept asking me what I wanted to major in. I gave her the same answer every time, but a few days later, she’d ask me the same question. I concluded that she’s exceptionally forgetful.
Recently someone asked me if I had done something yet. I already told her two months earlier that I decided not to do it. Either she is extremely forgetful, or she likes to make conversation, or both. I’ve also noticed that she’ll bring up a past topic for the sake of giving advice. I know she means well, but it is extremely annoying to be nagged about something that isn’t her business.
I am a quiet person. While I’m not actively participating in conversation, I am observing. I tend to remember what people say, even if they weren’t talking to me directly (but I’ll pretend I don’t know, so as to not seem like a creepy eavesdropper). More importantly, if I truly don’t care about what’s going on in your life, I won’t pretend to care by asking you questions and then forgetting your answers. I will only ask if I actually care, and I will remember what you say.
Since I don’t engage in this repetitive questioning, I’m trying to understand why people do it. Here are some reasons I’ve come up with:
- Forgetting. This person honestly is interested but is seriously forgetful.
- For the sake of making conversation. What is discussed only matters in the present and is promptly forgotten.
- To give unsolicited advice or to disparage.
- For their own entertainment. This is quite rare and happens more with small children and immature adults.
- They don’t like your answer and are hoping for a different one.
I’m hoping that most people fall into the first two categories, and not the third. However, regardless of the reason, I still find it annoying.
I’d like to know what would be the best way to handle such questions. As much as I would love to say, “I already told you last week,” it might appear rude and embarrass the asker. I care about other people’s face and don’t want to embarrass anyone by correcting them publicly.
Someone has suggested to give a different answer each time, to mess with the person who’s asking. After all, it doesn’t matter what you say because they’ll forget it, anyway! I like that idea. However, it won’t work with questions like “Have you done _____ yet?” since the answer is either “yes” or “no.” I could try to mess with her by pretending I have no idea what she’s talking about, but that might spiral out of control. So far I have been giving answers along the line of “working on it” or “looking into it” but it really is something that I do not wish to discuss with that person. Saying “I’d rather not talk about it,” will make things awkward, but might be necessary.
I am confused.
Why would someone ask another person the same question over and over again, after the person has answered it? What would you do if you’re on the receiving end of such repetitive questioning?