It’s a familiar scenario:
You’re at a work event, or maybe a family dinner, and there’s a conversation you just can’t get out of. Whichever way you try, you know it’ll come across as awkward or rude.
We’ve all been there.
But with a little tact and fast thinking, you can gracefully remove yourself from such situations, all while still leaving a positive and polite impression.
Here are 10 ways to exit a conversation without making it awkward:
1) The classic excuse
“Anyway, it was great talking to you but I must be off. Speak soon!”
This is my all-time favorite line, usually when someone starts a rant and I don’t feel like sticking around for it.
It’s polite and to the point, but most importantly, allows you to leave without the other person feeling cut short.
But remember, timing is everything.
You wouldn’t use this line midway through their sentence. You should time it for when they inhale, about to launch onto the next rant.
Then you can make your graceful escape.
2) The scheduled departure
It’s not good to lie. But some conversations are so draining that they warrant bending the truth, just a little bit.
“I’d love to hear more about how ducks mate in the wild, but I’ve got a dentist appointment in half an hour so I really should get going.”
This stops the other person from feeling like you’re uninterested, as you’re giving them a direct reason as to why you have to end the conversation.
If anything, it makes you seem like a responsible adult who has good time management skills.
3) Offer to follow up
“What an interesting fact, I’d love to hear more about it, perhaps later on? I’ve got to run now…”
Sometimes you’re genuinely interested in what the other person has to say, but you simply don’t have time to listen because you’ve got other things to get on with.
As both my husband and I work from home, I’ve found this line pretty useful.
We love sharing random information with each other throughout the day, and I would hate to sound like I’m uninterested.
So when I need to concentrate on work and hubby brings up an in-depth topic, I use this line and we revisit the conversation during dinner.
4) Introduce them to someone else
If you’re in a social setting like a party, and you want to change the subject without making it awkward, grab the nearest person to you and introduce them to whoever you’re speaking to.
I’ll be honest, this is a bit of a deceptive technique because you’re essentially distracting the person you were originally talking to.
But if it works – why not?
You’re not being rude. If anything, you could be playing Cupid in doing so!
5) Use your drink as an excuse
This might sound like the typical strategy used in films, but it’s a pretty easy way to end a conversation without things getting awkward.
Not only will you stay hydrated and get a nice fresh drink, but you can conveniently start talking to someone else at the bar if you don’t wish to continue the original conversation.
6) Phone call strategy
Alright, this next point should be used very sparingly.
Because let’s face it, we’ve all seen this line used and most people will cotton on to what you’re doing.
But with that being said, if you really can’t find a nice way to end a conversation, a simple, “Oh, I’m expecting an important phone call soon. I’m just going to step outside,” will do the trick.
7) Task reminder
I used this strategy the other day.
A friend of a friend had been trying to drag on the conversation for ages and quite frankly, I didn’t know how to get out of it.
All I knew was I had to end it ASAP.
So, I waited for the right moment, casually checked the time, and then said, “Crap, I was meant to send an email for work. So sorry to leave the conversation here but I really need to get to this. Will catch you in a bit!”
Nice and easy.
8) Bathroom break
If you’ve ever seen an episode of First Dates, you’ll know that the bathroom break is the perfect excuse to make when it’s time to cut the conversation short.
And the best thing about using this excuse?
No one can argue with it. It’s human nature. You’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do.
When you come back, smoothly change the subject to something you can both get into.
9) Be honest but tactful
Let’s say you’re at a singles event.
There’s one person who keeps talking no matter how much you try to indicate you’re ready to move on.
In this situation, you might want to just be honest. Say something like:
“I promised myself I’d speak to at least 3 people tonight, so I’m going to mingle. It’s been a pleasure speaking to you though.”
But do it tactfully. Read the room and the energy of the person you’re speaking to. If they seem like they’d be understanding of a reason like that, go for it.
If not, you might be better off sticking to the toilet excuse.
10) The helper
Ah, the helper. Useful if you want to end a conversation without it turning awkward, whilst also looking like a good person…
The trick is to suddenly spot someone who looks like they need a hand.
“I’m sorry, but I’ve just seen someone who appears to be lost, I’m going to see if I can help.”
“Oh, it looks like Aunt Rose needs a hand with that platter, sorry, duty calls!”
You get the gist…this excuse is pretty diverse and adaptable, so it’s a good one to keep up your sleeve.
Ending a conversation can be a tricky thing. But it doesn’t have to be awkward if you have a few handy backup plans.
Quite often, I find being honest is the easiest approach. But it really depends on the person and the conversation at hand.
Try out the tips above and hopefully, you’ll find a few that work for you!
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