This super awesome guest post comes from my girl Kelly of Adulting fame. She was sweet enough to interview me for the ‘making friends as a grownup’ chapter in her best-selling book!
At least 87 percent of casual, small-talk conversations last too long. The problem here is twofold:
• People are afraid to end the conversation
• “It’s time to end this talk” hints are ignored
This is something lots of people struggle with, so don’t feel bad!
First, do not fear the conversational reaper. All things begin and all things end, including this conversation you are engaged in. And really, chances are that the other person doesn’t want this to go on forever, either.
Can you imagine spending your entire life right there, in that living room, talking talking talking to this person about sports or the mutual friend you have or whatever, both of you growing old and grey and still the conversation flows dully on? No one wants that.
So when you notice the drop-off in the mutual enthusiasm level to below, say, 50 percent, start to convey your intent for things to end by issuing a somewhat final-sounding statement on the topic at hand, followed by “Anyway …”
For example: “No, totally. Tom is the best! Anyway,” and here, you will adopt an expression that conveys many things — sadness that this conversation is coming to an end, gladness that you have met this person, resignation to the finality of what you are about to say — “It has been just wonderful chatting with you.”
You don’t really need to announce whatever it is you’re going to do after this (“I think I’m gonna head to the snack bowl!”) because everyone knows what time it is, and that will sound awkward anyway.
Then, let them acknowledge that they have enjoyed chatting with you, and then say goodbye brightly.
Thanks so much for sharing your insights, Kelly! How do you guys get out of conversations once they’ve gone south? Tell us in the comments!
P.S. 16 questions that will make small talk a lot better