MAKE AN EXCUSE
It seems like a simple solution to say, “I’m going to grab a drink” or “I’m going to go say hi to so-and-so,” but sometimes simple is best. The key is to actually follow through on your excuse to avoid further awkwardness—if you say you’re going to the ladies room, don’t then go and start talking to someone else.
ESCAPE A RANTER
If someone is going on and on about a hot-button issue you’d rather not discuss, don’t roll your eyes or interrupt—they’ll only try harder to convince you of their opinion. Instead, let them finish their monologue before changing the subject (see below) or excusing yourself (see above).
EMBRACE THE QUIET
Not all silences have to be awkward. Rather than talk for the sake of filling the gap, take time to really consider what you’ll say next. Not sure what that is? Change the subject—compliment their shoes, make an observation about what’s going on around you or ask what they’re doing for the holidays.
PLAY THE PASS OFF
Loop a third person into the conversation, introduce them and either excuse yourself or stick around to see if this new addition livens things up.
GET TO THE POINT
If the other person is rambling in a million directions and not really getting to their point, get there for them. Rephrase their message. So if they’re saying, “I had a million meetings today, I left work late last night, my to-do list is a mile long…” and so on, wait for a break and arrive at the conclusion yourself by saying, “You must be overwhelmed.”