Whether you are trying to introduce yourself to a potential date or finding a business client, building your conversational skills is a necessity. How well it would have served all of us if we had this knowledge at an early age! Think of all those opportunities to meet people we missed because we’re scared to get into AND GET OUT OF conversations.
Yesterday we went over how to build rapport with a stranger, today we will focus on getting you out of the conversation. In fact, you should master getting out of a conversation before you master getting into a conversation, that way you will have more confidence going into a conversation, having some security in how you can leave or bail yourself out at will. Here are some basic guidelines you can start with from “How to Start a CONVERSATION and make friends” by Don Gabor.
Closing Conversations a Positive Way
There are natural pauses between sentences and topics of discussion, and it’s wise to wait for these opportune moments to bring your conversations to a close.
When you feel the time is right to close the conversation that is, the discussion has come to a conclusion or one of the parties has to leave – take an active role and begin to send signals that you are ready to leave. Briefly summarize the main ideas your partner has been expressing. This shows the other person that you were listening and that you understood, and it also signals a conclusion to the discussion.
If you are discussing a particular current event, and you want to send a conclusion signal, you could say “It certainly sounds like you’re well informed about the problem. I’ll read that article you were talking about.”
After you send a signal that you want to end a conversation, it’s good to plan to see the other person again (only if you really want to) by setting a meeting for the future, instead of closing with the customary cliche, Why don’t get together sometime?” (which usually means, never), be more specific about an event such as a movie or dinner, a time within the next week or so.
In a friendly and direct way you could say: “I’ve really had a lot of fun talking with you, [person’s name0]. How about getting together next week for dinner or a movie? I’ll give you a call.”
In this way, you express your interest in your partner while leaving an open invitation to meet again. This is particularly effective for developing friendships and relationships.
Remember to use your partner’s name when you say good-bye, and use open, friendly body language (eye contact, smiling, and a warm handshake). Then be on your way. Avoid long, drawn-out good-byes.
Getting Out of Problem Conversations
There are times when the nature of a conversation, or the person you’re speaking with, makes you prefer to end the conversation and withdraw without offending the other person. If you are cornered by a long-winded bore at a party who has been bragging about his exploits for some time, then try the following strategy to end the conversation.
Wait for a slight pause between words or sentences, and then quickly interject (an acceptable form of interruption) a few rapid yes or no questions, thus interrupting the bore’s flow of words and giving you the conversational ball. (Remember, you can direct a conversation by asking questions.) Then restate in a few sentences (make an effort to be
positive) an acknowledgment of your partner’s last few statements, and make your getaway. You can say: “Well, it sounds like you enjoy your work! Good luck on your next project. I’m going to mosey along and say hello to a friend of mine,” or “I’m going to get some hors d’oeuvres now, ifyou’ll excuse me.” After smiling and shaking hands, say: “Talk to you later, George,” and then move directly out the situation.
You may be worrying, “But what if I don’t know anyone else at the party! I can’t just stand around! He’ll see me standing there and become offended!” Try this simple solution: Go refill your glass, get a nibble to eat, or visit the bathroom, and then take a few moments to survey the situation. Look for the most open and receptive group or person in the room. Proceed there directly and engage in conversation. If you’re really sharp, you can spot your likely person or group before you deliver your conversation closer.
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