Rules for Life

How to Gracefully Exit a Bad Conversation

There’s nothing more awkward than two people with nothing to say to each other sharing a blank, uncomfortable look. Even the best small talkers experience this from time to time. It’s clear the conversation has run its course, and both want to leave and talk with other people. Usually one person relieves the tension by acknowledging this uncomfortable fact, and they part ways via an awkward exit. Would it make your life better if you knew how to gracefully exit a bad conversation without any of the unnecessary awkwardness? Read on for six ways to smoothly execute the exit.

Gracefully Exit With The Refill

Almost all social gatherings serve drinks, so this is an easy one. Just say “pardon me, I am going to get a refill”, and walk away. It’s courteous to ask the other person if they want something, but when you do, you commit to a return to the bad conversation. Skip the courtesy and move along. Of course, you do run the risk of that person suggesting they’ll join you. Then, you’re stuck with Boring Betty at the bar.

Bathroom Break

If drinks are not being served, the bathroom break is another sure bet for an easy exit. All you have to do is say “excuse me, I need to use the restroom” and be on your merry way. If they follow you into the bathroom, take your sweet time and reach for your cell phone as you exit. This is a surefire way to ditch Lame Larry.

Phone’s Ringing

Let’s face it; your cell phone could be your greatest wingman in any situation. When you’re caught in a conversation heading nowhere, reach for your pocket and try one of these two tricks. First, look at your phone and say “hold on, I need to take this”, as if you’re getting a call. If you’re a bad liar, open your texts, briefly read one, and say “Sorry, but I need to handle this.” Then, simply walk away, no questions asked. Chatty Kathy will have nothing more to say.

The Arrival

When you’re attending an event with friends, family or co-workers, you have several reasons to exit the conversation. Use this line to cut bait: “my girlfriend is supposed to be arriving any minute. Let me go see if she’s here.” You can substitute ‘girlfriend’ with any connection, and you’ve got your out. Dry Doug will be forced to migrate to another innocent victim.

Missing Person

Similar to the arrival, the missing person places your focus on someone you’re meaning to spend time with at the event. If you’re there with a friend, family, co-worker or romantic interest, all you have to do is mention that you haven’t seen this person in awhile, and you’re going to look for them. After all, you’re at the event together. If you haven’t seen them in awhile it’s only natural you’d want to check up on them. Awkward Annie won’t know what hit her.

The Pawn Off

Fans of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” will recognize this technique as a variation of “foisting”, where you push a bad employee of yours into another job by providing a sparkling referral. In a social setting, this is a bit different, but just as effective. As you’re trapped in this bad conversation, scan the room to see who is nearby. Find a reason to introduce your boring conversation partner to this other person. Once you make the intro, have a line of “common interest” prepared as the reason you’re making the intro to Belligerent Bob. Then, make a beeline for the bar or bathroom. Problem solved.

Dealing With the Socially Awkward

These six techniques are extremely effective, but do not work 100% of the time. Every once in awhile, you encounter someone who lacks total social awareness and defines awkwardness. They are relentless in their pursuit of your attention, no matter how many obvious signals you toss their way. If you find yourself stuck in this predicament, you have two options.

The first required you to be blunt and potentially rude about your intentions. To avoid offending someone, the second option involves faking bad stomach pains and telling them you’re sick. I’ve used this technique a number of times and it’s a flawless tactic.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

⁃ Your Big Bro