What to Say When People Ask Your Age

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Has anyone ever randomly asked your age? Are you uncomfortable answering? A lot of people feel that it's no one else's business how old they are, and they're offended by the question. Age is one of the most sensitive topics for many people since ageism continues to be a problem in society.

It's understandable, although rude, for people to ask at your birthday party. However, it's unconscionable for someone to randomly inquire about how old you are. Whether they have a reason to ask or they're just plain nosy, it's none of their business, and you can decline to respond while still maintaining good manners.

It's Your Choice

Vanity may be a motive for some folks who don't care to announce how old they are, but many simply choose to keep their age as well as other personal information private. This choice may offend the one inquiring, and that is regrettable; however, this is personal information and no one should feel pressured to answer. The elegant lady or gentleman must always consider the other person's comfort and should thus avoid questions that might cause them discomfort or embarrassment. Someone once said, A lady never tells, and a good thing to add is neither does she ask.

Maintaining Your Dignity

As you attempt to live a life that is mannerly and socially graceful, you should always place the needs of others in front of your curiosity. In short, you should know that asking someone's age is rude, so you should not ask.

If someone does ask you, know that it is completely proper for you to say something like, "That is not information that I wish to share. I'm sure you understand." Most people will accept your response and change the subject.

What to Do When Someone Asks

Remain gracious and kind and move seamlessly to the next subject. Most people will not press the issue, although there may be some who will continue trying to get an answer. Just stand your ground and be assured in the knowledge that this is a rude question, one belonging in the same category as asking someone's weight, salary, or even the carat weight of their diamond.

As a person who values manners and etiquette, realize that it is not your right to know personal details about others and neither should you feel obligated to share your own personal information. If you have been in the habit of asking others their age here are some things you might want to consider and implement.

What to Consider

  • Many people are very sensitive about their age. Age-related discrimination is a very real problem both in the social and work areas, so it's often best to keep the number of years a person has been alive out of any conversations. Many people respond differently, even with prejudice or bias, once they learn of one's biological age. Never let stereotypical ideas color your response to another.
  • Age is a state of mind. You may look a decade younger than your actual age and shock people who learn how many years you've been alive. If you stay healthy and active, there is no reason for people to even consider your age when interacting with you. 
  • Never judge a person by his or her age. There are those who are very mature at twelve years of age and others who have lived five decades who do not have a clue about what is really important in life. Accept the person for who he or she is at face value and don't worry about the age.
  • Consider the comfort of others before trying to satisfy your own curiosity. As a gracious lady or gentleman, your goal is to be considerate of other people and respect their feelings. Never asking prying, inappropriate or intrusive questions is one way of achieving this goal.

Walking in confidence is one mark of a person of integrity who knows how to respond in any situation in a mannerly way. She or he does so by exhibiting dignity and self-assurance that others will not dare challenge. Suffice it to say a lady (or gentleman for that matter) never asks and she (or he) doesn't need to tell. 

Edited by Debby Mayne