Friday, April 3, 2015

How to Gracefully Exit a Conversation That’s Going Nowhere at #HIMSS Conference

There will probably come a time during the 2015 HIMSS Conference in Chicago where you’ll find yourself trapped talking with a vendor, another attendee or a group of attendees in a conversation that’s going nowhere. You’re chatting with someone who won’t let you get a word in edgewise or someone is wasting time whining about their boss. What do you do? Do you grin and bear it? Or make up some excuse for why you have to leave on the double, jump ship, or head for the exits?

The Professional Approach

The “How to Network at a Conference” post on WikiHow provides a great approach as to “How to Excuse Yourself Gracefully.

“There will be times when someone you're networking with doesn't turn out to be someone you want to connect with. Alternatively, you might start to realize that the other person does not appear that interested in talking with you. In either case, excuse yourself politely, thank the person for his or her time, and continue your networking with other members of the conference.”

That’s the easy and probably the proper way to handle the situation. Here are some other tried and true exit strategies beyond the very direct “Excuse me, but I don’t want to talk to you anymore”:

The Positive Comment
“Steve, it was really a pleasure speaking with you about [Topic]. I’m going to take a look at some of the other exhibits here, but if I don’t run into you later, I hope to see you at another event soon.”

The Plan
“Please let me know how that project goes, I’d love to see it and hear how it turns out.” 

“Have you seen anyone from [company name] tonight? I’ve been meaning to chat with them.” 

The Excuse
“I need to use the bathroom, but I'm sure I'll see you around.” 

(Just don’t walk ten feet away and start talking to someone else, your former conversation partner is going to know you lied and dumped them)

“I don't want to take up all your time; it was great meeting you!”

Bow out when others join the conversation.
This is a standard, tried and true method. Once other people join the circle of conversation and things get going between your old partner(s), you slip away.

What Else?

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