You must be familiar with these situations: A colleague who loves to talk traps you into a painfully long conversation about something you are least interested in. Or a boss who likes to launch into long boring stories after everything else has been covered in a meeting.
The common thing about both these situations is that it wastes a lot of your valuable time. Yet, you don’t know how to get out of them without being rude and offending the other person.
Even if you somehow manage to shut down your colleague, it’s very difficult to politely end a conversation with a boss who likes to talk. If you simply stop interacting with people, you will be seen as arrogant and standoffish. That impression of you will hurt your career prospects.
It is essential to be social in the workplace, but you should also know how to create healthy boundaries. Thankfully, there are some ways you can end a conversation without being rude or impolite.
Timeboxing means setting a specific amount of time for your conversation partner. This technique works great when you listen to someone who tends to go on tangents.
We often have to deal with colleagues who love to talk in detail about their weekends or a boss who likes to talk about irrelevant things for long periods of time. You don’t want to hurt your relations with your colleagues, and you definitely don’t want to offend your boss.
Timeboxing the conversation helps you maintain connections at the office without draining all of your energy.
The best approach is, to be honest. Tell your colleague before he can even launch into one of his stories that you have only fifteen minutes to talk.
If you inform your colleague before the conversation begins that you are busy and have a lot on your plate, they will keep that in mind and won’t be offended if you cut the conversation short when the timer runs out.
If you can’t set an outright time limit, be smart and pick a spot that comes with time constraints. For instance, meet in the conference room which needs to be booked for specific periods of time.
Avoid meeting in the office break room where your colleague would be able to talk endlessly as there is no time limit. You can also meet outside for lunch with someone who likes to talk too much. When lunch is over, you will have an excuse to leave.
This is another smart and effective way of managing time. Set the alarm for a conversation. Tell your colleague that you have some urgent work lined up when the alarm goes off. As your colleague hears the alarm, he will realize that you must have a lot of work that you need to get to and won’t be offended by being cut short.
Yes, you heard us right. Time-outs aren’t only for kindergarten children being punished by teachers. You can request for a time-out if a conversation is getting too heated up or you are feeling too overwhelmed.
It is important to explain why you need a time-out, but if you ask for one in the correct manner, no one will be offended and you will be allowed to exit the conversation gracefully.
This technique works best in situations where you already share some rapport with the people in the meeting. By being honest, you show that you trust your colleagues and that you can be vulnerable with them. This will strengthen your relationship with your colleagues.
When a conversation doesn’t look like it is anywhere close to ending, you can extricate yourself from the conversation by using a diversion.
This technique works best when you are stuck in a draining conversation and you have a lot of work that urgently requires your attention.
Simply say something like “I need to attend a meeting” or “I really have to go now” and exit. If you are courteous, no one will be offended.
If the other techniques are not working, it might be time to be blunt. There is a way to let the other person know that you need to exit the conversation without being rude quickly. You can let them know that you are too busy to talk or that you have some urgent matter that needs your attention.
We have all gotten stuck in endless conversations from which we had great difficulty extracting ourselves. If you follow our pointers given above, you will be able to end conversations in a courteous manner. How do you end conversations without being rude? Let us know in the comments.
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