Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Today we respond to a question from a listener of Episode 596.

When is it okay to say no to a person who is asking nosy questions in American culture?

Find out today.

In Episode 596 we suggested some phrases that you can use when someone asks a nosy question such as “How much money do you make?”

Fernando, a long-time listener thought that our phrases were too direct.

Here is his question:

Well, that is an different culture trait to discuss here.

In my culture, people (include myself) has a huge difficult to say NO.

I understand if it is hard to believe, but say something like: “I’d rather not say” is considerably awkward.

Usually we try to deflect, smile and stay neutral but we seldom say a NO to anybody.

How this works in American culture? Being objective and saying a big NO to another person is it ok in a conversation to who receives the negative answer?

Thank you girls.



All Ears English TranscriptsMake sure you understand every word you hear on All Ears English.

Bring your English to the advanced level with new vocabulary and natural expressions.

Get the transcripts from today’s episode.

Learn to speak naturally with the American accent.

Click here to download them instantly.


Here are the phrases we taught in Episode 596:

  • “I’d rather not discuss this”
  • Laugh and deflect
  • “I’d rather not say”
  • “I’m not really comfortable talking about this right now”


About saying no in American culture:

It might feel awkward saying “no” and being direct in your response but it’s ok that it’s awkward.

It will be more awkward if you don’t make it clear that you don’t want to discuss the topic.

This is a cultural issue!


Lindsay’s response:

When Lindsay was living in Japan she rarely heard “no.” Instead there were other words that were used to mean “no” without actually saying it.

It really depends on your personality, the relationship between the two people, and the context.

Probably in business, using “no” directly is much more likely.

For me personally it depends on who I am with and how comfortable I am around the person and what the relationship is like.

Gender could be relevant here too.


Michelle’s response:

Michelle agrees that some of the phrases were direct, but it depends on the context.

She does think saying “no” can be scary, especially in the workplace.

It’s a skill to be able to say no with grace and not lose the connection.


What about in your culture?

Would the phrases from Episode 596 be too direct?

  • Badges (1)
  • Badges-1 (1)
  • Badges-2 (1)
  • US_ListenOn_AmazonMusic_button_black_RGB_5X
  • App-Store-Button
  • google-play-badge
  • Badges (1)
  • Badges-1 (1)
  • Badges-2 (1)
  • US_ListenOn_AmazonMusic_button_black_RGB_5X