I was thinking of making this two separate questions but I think the two together are closely related and affect each other.

I've had the experience a few times were someone is trying to get me to do something or ask me questions that really is between me and a different person.

My specific situation is my landlord often has guests and family over. I live in the same building as my landlord does. I feel like whenever my landlord says something or I try to ask her something, a lot of random people butt in. This is a problem because:

  1. I don't feel like my privacy is being respected
  2. Sometimes people give me the wrong information
  3. In terms of legal concerns, my landlord is the one I should be communicating with.

One example is I asked my landlord how to turn on the heat, and a friend of hers butted in and showed me how to use the thermostat. What he showed me was wrong.

Another example is the landlord's friend asked me when I was moving out. I really think this is between me and the landlord.

In general, how do you politely tell someone you will discuss something with the person who it concerns (which is not them)?

There are two separate scenarios:

  1. The person who it does is present but others are too, and they keep jumping into the conversation
  2. The person who it concerns is not present, and the person asking the question is being a "busy body"

I think the situation where someone is trying to get into someone else's business is fairly generic so I'm not looking for super specific solutions to the couple examples I give here. (If necessary I can give more examples).

  • 1
    Hey, I realize this is an old question and I know you wanted your question to be general but I believe that the broadness of the question makes it hard to answer. I believe you should have, indeed, cut this question into two different ones. Please, feel free to edit to do so. In any case, I am voting to close this question as too broad for now. – Ael Mar 12 '19 at 19:22

So your communication issue appears to not be with the landlord but rather with random, unknown, strangers?

A lot of this depends on how polite you want to be with others. Generally, when someone butts in and are not part of the conversation, I'll start out with, "Thank you; I'd prefer that [x] answer this question. We can converse more later if you'd like." Then I'm stating a preference and not locking that person out; I'm also opening the door to a later conversation if the person wants.

If that person doesn't take the hint, then I will become more forceful. If they butt in again, my response is.. "Excuse me; I'm talking with [x]. You are...?" [answer] "Thank you [interrupting person]; I am conducting business with [x]. Please forgive us while we finish that. Thanks!" Generally that makes plain that I don't want that person's advice.

However, if they don't then I move to the third phase: "I'm sorry, it appears that I won't be able to get the information I need without an interruption. When is a good time for me to stop by when we can converse about this without others interrupting?" Note in this that I don't talk directly to the interrupter; I make plain that my conversation is with the initial subject and I want to continue that when the interrupter is not around. The sentence is about me and my need, not anything else.

The point of these techniques I use is that I don't validate the interrupter by including them in a conversation they weren't invited to be part of. I continue it with the initial subject and say little to the person injecting him/herself into the conversation.

Obviously there's a time to be gracious; I don't recommend doing this when you're engaged in a friendly conversation about the weather (for example). This should only be used when conducing business and an additional person's presence hinders conducting that.

I missed this so I'll add it as an edit: WRT a busybody, that's actually pretty simple. "I'll have that conversation with [x], thanks" and leave it go at that. You don't debate their qualifications to answer the question; you don't engage them; you just make plain that you want that conversation with the desired party. If they ask "why", the response is also quite simple: "That's the party I desire to have that conversation with. I appreciate your curiosity but that's business matter between the two of us; I'm sure you understand." And leave it there. If they are persistent, then revert to the first answer and repeat it ad infinitum. You are under no obligation to explain your desire to conduct your business with someone else and a busybody will only try to argue with you to include them, so don't give them anything. Be polite yet firm: "I'll have that conversation with [x], thanks"

  • Bear in mind that, while these people are strangers to the OP, they are the landlord's friends and family. The landlord may well take offense at her loved ones being spoken to this way. I'm not sure where the OP is based, but the kind of formal, overly polite language you're suggesting would be enormously offensive in Ireland or the UK - far worse than 'And who the fuck are you?' – Meelah Sep 24 '18 at 14:12

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