There have been so many times I’ve been at a party, at school, at work – any sort of social gathering, really – when two or more people are talking relatively close to me. At first, I feel like I’m involved in what they’re saying. I smile and nod accordingly until I realize I’m not part of the conversation. I used to feel a slight sense of panic and my face would turn red as I pondered what to do, but having to deal with this so many times, I’m fortunate enough to be able to call myself a real pro and I’m going to let you in on my best, most helpful tips.
Transitioning is key when gracefully leaving a conversation you weren’t meant to be in. And when I think of gracefully exiting, I think of slithering. Slithering basically involves moving as quietly, quickly and invisibly as possible. It’s easily done at a party, especially when music is involved. You can just slither dance your way out of there. If you aren’t a natural dancer, slithering may require flexibility, swiftly maneuvering yourself out of sight. You might have to bend under a table, hide beneath a chair and/or crawl through a doorway. You want to be gone before they realize you were there in the first place.
Believe me, the pain you may endure slithering is much better than standing there, smiling awkwardly, nodding or pretending to be interested in the idle chit-chat.
The faster you slither out of there the better. That’s why you have to be hyper-vigilant about who is conversing around you. Luckily for me, it’s one of my many skills. I’m like a paranoid snake at parties. Weaving my way in and out of conversations I wasn’t meant to be involved in. It’s a blast.
Become Part of the Conversation:
Sometimes slithering doesn’t work, because the people having the conversation might attempt to include you in their talk. This is when I think to myself, “Oh no. Please don’t pity me. Just let me snake around.” Although you shouldn’t actually say this since it might make you sound crazy, you can definitely use this feeling to add some spiciness to the conversation, really stir things up. Maybe they’re talking about their favorite ice cream flavors. Well, with your newfound feistiness, you are really ready to fire up this convo. You can speak with passion about your hatred of vanilla and your love of all things chocolate. You can diss sprinkles all you want. You can yell about your hatred of fruit flavored ice cream. I know it may be hard, but try not to be too aggressive. You’re in the conversation now; you don’t want to scare people away.
Busy Bee It:
Another great option is to pretend you’re very focused on another activity, or what I refer to as Busy Beeing it. This is a great choice when the conversation mishaps occur while you’re sitting, because slithering is pretty much impossible in that case. Your best bet is to pretend you are so busy and cannot be bothered. Let’s say, for example, that you’re in class, sitting down, when people seem to be having a conversation about a topic you can’t seem to resist focusing on. Maybe you get so caught up in listening that you smile and laugh and then speak as if you’re part of their discussion. After this, it’s important not to panic, because the answer to all of your problems is with you at all times: your wonderful ability to busy bee it. Use your imagination and pretend you are repairing your phone or watch. If you have a notebook, begin to write rapidly. If you have a book, read it with gusto. Busy Beeing it not only allows those around you to forget about your awkward exchange but it also makes you look extremely smart and interesting.
When you are struggling through a slither or busy bee it moment, it’s important to have hope. Hope for future conversations. Hope for conversations that you can bee the star of, and hope for conversations that you don’t feel the need to slither away from.