Monday, June 25, 2018

How to end a conversation

When you're hopelessly trapped, try these suggestions.
Wait for a lull in the conversation. “Well.” “Okay.” “Anyway.” “So.” Such words emerge when a conversation has momentarily stalled. They’re turning points where either a new topic can be introduced, or the conversation may draw to a close. As such, they’re the perfect opportunity to begin to disengage. The speaker will say “So,” with an upward lilt in the voice, hopeful of the continuation of the conversation. You answer with a tone of more downbeat finality, “So.” And then you quickly transition into your exit line. “So, listen, it’s been great catching up with you…”
Bring the conversation around to the reason you connected in the first place. When possible, this makes for a smooth ending. Did the conversation start by you asking someone for their recommendation for a class to take? End with, “Well, I appreciate the tip. I’ll definitely try to get into that class during enrollment.” Did it start by someone asking you to take care of a problem at work? Close things out with, “So I appreciate you bringing this to my attention. I’ll definitely send Jim an email this afternoon to figure out what’s going on.”
Use an exit line. This is where having an agenda as outlined above really helps. When it comes to what kind of exit line to use, first, be honest. Fabricating excuses is tempting, but it can come off as dishonest in the moment and lead to more trouble later if the truth gets out. Second, put the emphasis on what it is that you need to accomplish. This makes your exit seem less like a judgment of the other person – it’s not about them, there’s just something you need to do.

Introduce the person to someone else. If one of the above exit lines won’t do the trick, try introducing your conversation partner to someone else. “It was great talking to you, Paul. There’s someone else I’d like you to meet. My friend Sam over here is also in software design.” Walk your conversation partner over or flag down your friend. Then say, “I’ll let you guys talk.” Now you should only employ this method if you genuinely think the two would mutually enjoy the connection. You don’t want to pawn an insanely boring, or simply insane person on someone else just so you can wriggle away.
Get the person to introduce you to someone else. This is a good method for networking-type events. Ask the person if they know someone that can help you with a problem:

Invite the person to do something with you. This allows you to make a possible exit/continue on to what you wanted to do without your conversation partner feeling abandoned, and allowing them to still feel wanted. Say something like:
  • I’m going to try to meet the speaker. Do you want to come?
  • I’m ready for another drink. Want to go over to the bar with me?
If the person declines your invitation, well, you’ve successfully ended your conversation with them. If they accept the invitation, you can hook up with some more people who can liven things up, and you can keep after whatever your original agenda/purpose was before you got pulled into the conversation.
Bow out when others join the conversation. This is a standard, tried and true method. Once other people join the circle of conversation and things get going between your old partner(s), you slip away.
There's a lot more detail in the article. And for my readers who can't read, here's a video:

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