How to Handle Sticky Situations
The Etiquette of Dull Conversations
Situation: The most boring person at a party has you cornered―and he won’t stop talking.
Solution: Try bringing in a third person to liven up the conversation. Or simply put in some time and then excuse yourself. “The point of social events is to mingle,” says Shannon Donnelly. “But you don’t have to babysit.” After a few minutes of polite small talk, use a verbal cue to signal that it’s time to move on. Try “It was so nice catching up with you” or “I hate to monopolize your time,” then say good-bye. In a business situation, extend your hand. “Shaking hands is a huge cue that you are about to move on,” says Jodi R. Smith.
Situation: Someone is rehashing an anecdote that’s all too familiar.
Solution: “If your 98-year-old grandmother is telling you the same story for the fifth time, let it go,” says Smith. “She’s earned her right to tell stories again.” To make it more interesting, ask her for more details or to elaborate on different parts of the story. When your boss is the one on repeat, it’s best to let her ramble as well. Ask questions only if there’s a pause, and you can hide the fact that you’ve heard it all before. But if a close friend or a coworker is yapping away, feel free to hit fast-forward and ask “Is this the time you found your car in the lake?”