Avoid being stuck in a conversation – how to move on when you’re ready

We’ve all been there haven’t we? You’re at a social function, a networking event, a business conference and your intention is to circulate, meet new people, catch up with colleagues and friends and then you get stuck.

What started off as an exchange of ideas can then turn into a one-way street where someone goes from being interesting and helpful, for example, to dull and droning on.

Maybe they don’t value their time; they certainly don’t value yours. It’s an interesting conundrum. If you know you’re ready to move on and it’s time to get going, how do you politely, assertively and intentionally wind up that conversation and move on to your next one?

Firstly I put to you, there’s the ‘mind’ piece. If you know your intention is to meet people, to find out how people are doing, to contribute where you can and to show up in a way that means people remember you were there, well then that’s the first thing to keep in mind. You can also assume other people will have a positive intention similar to that. No-one’s ever going to say to you “Oh no, I only came here to bang on about myself, to tell people how great I think I am and then to leave having met as few people as possible” – they just won’t ever say that, even if it is their intention. Unfortunately for us, some people, unconsciously or otherwise, do have that very intention and when you find yourself stuck it can be really tricky to move on without being rude or finding yourself apologizing.

To respectfully and assertively steer yourself away – and this works just as well socially as it does professionally – you need to be able to say a couple of things really clearly and I’ve chosen, from my extensive ‘treasure chest’ of ways and words, a simple example you can use straight away. Plus of course, the behind-the-curtain thinking in saying it.

It goes like this:

“Well, it’s been great chatting with you Jane/John and I particularly enjoyed hearing about XYZ. I know you’ll be wanting to chat with other people too so I won’t monopolise you any more and ABC etc.”

Behind-the-curtain thinking:

  1. The word ‘Well’ immediately implies a change in rhythm or tempo is about to occur. ‘Well’ is a summing up word and it tells the other person that you’re about to change direction or round up. My trusty Mac says: ‘Well – used to introduce the resumption of a narrative or a change of subject’.
  2. “It’s been great chatting with you” – you’re putting it in the past tense. The subtle reference that the chatting is over is still easy to say and comfortable because it has been – it’s just that now you’re ready to move on.
  3. “I particularly enjoyed hearing about XYZ” – you’re summarizing what you found useful or interesting which shows you’ve listened and engaged with the conversation. ‘Enjoyed’ is in the past tense too.
  4. “I know you’ll be wanting” tells the other person what you assume to be true and you’re presuming that their intention is to “chat with other people too” ie mine is, so I’m assuming yours is too.
  5. “I won’t monopolise you anymore” – this is where you take the responsibility for what could be happening but in reality, you’re ready to disengage and so it’s both assertive and self-deprecating at the same time. A powerful combination.
  6. ‘and ABC’ is where you can say what happens next – if anything. “and I’ll call you next week” or “and thanks for your advice” or “and enjoy the rest of your evening too”.

Well, now you can just move on.

How do I learn more about Kay?

To have the opportunity to discuss any blind spots you know you have or things that are slowing you down or holding you back as you connect, persuade and compel people at work; click here to apply for a complimentary conversation with Kay.

Article reproduced with permission of Kay White, Communication Specialist and Mentor at www.wayforwardsolutions.com. Kay shows professionals how to be understood. Get quicker, faster and better results by becoming a more effective, influential and savvy communicator – everywhere in your life.

In addition, you can listen to an exclusive interview with Kay where she shares several exclusive tips on how to immediately make your communication more powerful and persuasive: http://www.maximisepotential.co.uk/how-to-develop-effective-powerful-communication/

About the Author

Hi, I'm Tom Burkinshaw, I co-produce the Maximise Your Potential Podcast and Website and my goal is to help as many people as possible be successful in life, careers and business, by offering free coaching and mentoring through a series of unique interviews from inspiring people who all display exceptional self-belief, mental toughness and desire to achieve. Thank you for taking the time to visit Maximise Your Potential!