All this partying got me thinking: what's the best way to exit a conversation when you have other hosting, networking, or social duties to attend to?
1. The Touch Interrupt.
Ever told yourself, "I'll excuse myself as soon as this guy stops talking," only to have the guy keep talking to infinity and beyond?
If you're ready to make your exit, don't count on the conversation magically knowing that, and ending. Instead, briefly touch the person who is speaking on the arm or shoulder. This will create a pause in the conversation, and direct the speaker (and listeners') attention to you.
As an added bonus, human touch can have a warm, bonding effect. Done correctly, it is a form of positive politeness, or politeness that shows closeness and liking (vs. negative politeness, which shows boundaries and respect). If you touch someone too long or too intimately (e.g., putting your arm around someone you barely know), you could make the person uncomfortable, and it will make them like you less.
But done warmly, appropriately and respectfully, it shows the person, "Hey, I like you. I feel comfortable enough with you to touch you." And people tend to like people who like them -- it's a psychology thing.
In other words, the Touch Interrupt is not only an effective way to excuse yourself from the conversation. It's also a warmth thing, and a power thing. Making it a charisma thing.
After all, as I wrote in These Specific Behaviors Will Make You More Charismatic, Starting RIGHT Now, from an evolutionary perspective, we find charismatic people "charismatic" for a reason. Humans are social, and thrive best in tribes, clans and communities. Social bonding is important -- but not all bonds are created equal.
If someone doesn't seem to like you, you can't count on them to help or support you when you're hungry, injured, pregnant, or fleeing from a lion.
If someone doesn't seem powerful, you also can't count on them to help or support you when you're hungry, injured, pregnant, or fleeing from a lion.
Therefore, two of the biggest components of charisma are warmth and power. It's a hardwired attraction, because people who were drawn to cold and powerless people died a long time ago, and so did their offspring.
Want to know more? Check out The Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art And Science of Personal Magnetism. You can buy it on Amazon, or get it for free on audible using this link:
You've gotten their attention -- while improving your perceived charisma. Awesome! Now, keep the good energy going by expressing regrets about leaving the conversation. This is similar to what some experts would call "face saving." You don't want them to think you've leaving because you don't like them or you're bored.
So instead, show them that you've enjoyed the conversation, and put the blame elsewhere. For example, "It was so great chatting with you! You always manage to crack me up! But..."
- I'm going to run to the restroom.
- There's someone I need to go talk to.
- I have to go take care of something.
- It looks like I need to replenish the snack table.
- I promised myself I would...
- An old friend just arrived, and I should go say hi.
The thing is, if you give an excuse like this, you have to actually do what you said you would do. Because if you say you're going to do X and then you do Y and people notice, you're going to look dishonest. People hate dishonest.
If you hope to follow up with this person/these people in the future, you'll make things much easier for yourself if you can plant the seed for your next interaction. End with an unfinished thought. Build suspense! Or simply tell them you're excited to follow up. For example:
- I definitely want to hear more about your startup! Let's talk soon!
- Remind me to tell you about that blog post -- I think you'll have some interesting thoughts.
- I have the most amazing story I wanted to tell you about (something of mutual interest) -- I'll tell you later!
- I had some questions I wanted to ask about that paper you published -- don't let me forget!
- I wasn't kidding when I said I'd destroy you at basketball. I'll email you next time I'm going to play. Hopefully you can make it!
Following these three easy steps, you can exit a conversation exactly when you want to, without hurting anyone's feelings, and while improving the way people perceive you. If you have additional tips for a perfect graceful exit, share them in the comments!
Want to know more Check out 11 Unconventional Ways to Make New Friends as an Adult; BEHOLD! The Number One Best Way To Meet New People; and Finally! A Definitive Way to Know Who Pays For The Date.