Some people are more naturally curious than others. They tend to ask lots of questions and always seem to be interested in what’s going on around them. Sometimes this is appropriate and sometimes it is not. Sometimes others perceive this as sweet and endearing and sometimes others perceive it as obnoxious and intrusive.
How curiosity or “being nosey” is perceived is largely dependent on the audience and who one is being nosey with. For example, if a parent is nosey about what their toddler is doing and is checking up on things, that seems pretty appropriate. This is often appropriate when a parent is nosey about their teenager or even adult child as well. A parent’s job is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the children so taking interest in what’s going on makes sense.
But what if someone is curious about what strangers are doing? Or maybe not even strangers but people they are not close with? What if someone continually tries to insert him or herself into YOUR business and you simply do not want them there. What then?
Well, there are a few things to discuss here. The first is that if someone is being nosey with you, it is an opportunity to practice boundary setting. And while boundaries are terribly, terribly important, we are going to save that topic for another day. Today we are going to talk about WHY people are nosey.
As you may know, most people like to feel important. They like to feel included. They like to feel involved. They like to feel like they are “in the know.” For some people, often those that struggle with their own boundaries, one way to get these needs met is to incorporate themselves into the circumstances of others. It is a way to feel important. And included. And involved. And like they are “in the know.”
A “nosey” person is typically not trying to be an inconvenience. Actually, that is typically the opposite of what they are trying to be. They want to be involved, yes, but often they want to be helpful. They want to feel as though they are contributing. They want to feel heard and seen. And inserting oneself into someone else’s business is a great way to make that happen.
The outcomes for a nosey person are not always positive and while the person may be given attention, it may be negative attention. The sad thing is that if someone is craving attention so badly, it stops mattering if it’s positive or negative. Something is better than nothing when someone feels starved emotionally.
Now, are there just those people that seemingly want to cause problems and stir things up? Sure. Of course. But if we peel back their layers, these “shit stirrers” are just wanting to feel involved and important too. And what better way to do that than to be the one to instigate drama?
See, pretty much all human behavior can be traced back to someone working to get their wants and needs met. People use maladaptive strategies all the time and often, even when they recognize that it’s not working, fail to see that change is possible. So they just keep doing what they have been doing forever, hoping against all hope for different results. How frustrating.
So next time someone is minding your business instead of their own, try to be kind and remember that they likely just want to feel involved. And important. Nearly everyone wants that. And deserves that. And you, yes you deserved to feel involved and important too!