Manner Monday®: Conversation ‘Exit’ Strategy

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This weeks Manner Monday is a question asked by a reader that refers to social situations, but can work in business situations as well!  Obviously not the ‘divorced’ topic – but any topic you’re not comfortable discussing, or is off topic and you’d like to get the convo back on track.

Q: I’m in my 40s and single.  One of the biggest problems me and other single ladies encounter is going on a first date and someone spending a LOT of time hearing about their divorce, their ex wife, how she cheated, how he caught her (you get my point).  When I find myself trapped for an hour listening to someone go on and on, what’s a good way to put a stop to it and change the subject?  Thanks for your help. – E

A: Yikes! Yes – you need to develop an ‘exit strategy’.  Not an exit from the situation – but an exit from the conversation topic.

Work on a few lines that you feel you can easily say to redirect them.  Maybe something along the lines of:  “I know that must have been difficult – but what a great opportunity to learn from past mistakes.  Can we now both agree to not talk about xyz anymore and focus on learning about each other”?

Then immediately have a few go to questions that you can ask to totally change the subject,

  • “What is your favorite genre of book to read?”
  • “If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and what would you do?”
  • “What’s your favorite Netflix binge?”

Focus on questions that will help you decide if this is someone you’d like to get to know further.  And whether or not they can take the cue and move on to a new topic.

In business, when you’re at a networking event and find yourself stuck in an awkward conversation, practice your ‘exit’ speech for those situations where you just need to ‘move on’.  Something along the lines of: “Mike, it’s been wonderful talking with you and learning more about your business. It sounds like you came today to make the most of this networking opportunity. There’s so much to see here, I’ll let you get back to visiting the other attendees.” (Shake hands and walk away.)

Do you have a ‘manner’ or question you would like to see covered in a post? Feel free to send me your thoughts, I would love to hear from you. My goal is to help students to feel more comfortable and confident in the social and professional skills; do you know someone who would enjoy this post?  If so, please share it and encourage them to sign up to receive Manner Monday?  I would appreciate it!

And if you’re new to Manner Monday, I’d love for you to take a minute to learn more about why I started it. You can click here to read my very first post that tells all about it.

Thanks for reading!
Carey Sue

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