Dealing with chatterboxes: How to cut a conversation short

We’ve all been there, in the midst of a never-ending (usually one sided) conversation. You don’t want to be rude and cut them off, but they never seem to allow you that two second pause to graciously make your exit. It’s just sentence after sentence with no way out.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good gab fest and I’m positive I’m guilty of talking off an ear or two. But whether you simply don’t have the time at that moment or it is a case of a boring convo that just needs to end, here are some tips on how to gracefully cut a convo short, or how not to get into one in the first place!

• Set a time limit

Before things get out of hand start the conversation by setting a time limit. For example “Hi Alexandra, so nice to hear from you. Just so you know I have to be out the door in 15 min, but happy to chat until then.” This allows you an easy out that won’t be considered rude. In fact, they will be considered rude if they keep you from your appointment.

If you’re already entrenched in the convo you can still employ this method by subtly looking at the time (if you’re in person) and politely mention how you have a “thing” at said time.

• Go on a mission

If it’s more of a party scenario where you can’t leave the premise or hang up the phone, then it’s time to go on a mission. By this I mean excuse yourself to refresh your drink, run to the restroom, or check on the meal (if hosting). Have a few ideas ready at hand so you’re prepared with an out.

If you find this uncomfortable ask if they want a refresh as well so it doesn’t look like you’re trying to escape them. If they say yes, then when you return bring someone else so at least you don’t have too carry the whole weight of the convo. This brings us to our next tip…

• Enlist help

Again, if it’s a group/party scenario then enlist help from those around you. Do you’re best to draw another person into the conversation. If it becomes a group chat then one, it will be easier to slip away and two, even if you’re stuck at least you won’t have to be the sole listener.

• Write it out

If you know someone is a chatterbox try a different form of communication. Instead of calling them up, try reverting to text or email. By keeping it in writing there’s a natural cap to the length of the message. Even if they write back a novel length text you don’t have to respond in turn.

• Chat more often

This may seem counterintuitive, but if you go long stretches without a proper catch up of course the conversation will drag on, there’s so much to be said! Again catching up can be so enjoyable, but if you don’t typically have time for hour long convos then this a great way to get in the bonding without having to commit to lengthy chats.

• Be direct and firm

If you’re really in a pinch and there’s just no break in the conversation you’ll have to suck it up and just be direct and firm. “So sorry, but I have to get going, but let’s catch up again soon.” Just try to say it in a relaxed and pleasant manner. It may feel a bit rude or abrupt to you, but I guarantee if they’re such a talker they’re used to getting cut off.

HOMEWORK: If you know someone who it a chatterbox then prepare before the next time you see or call them. If you know your plan of exit then not only will you be able to politely cut it short, but you’ll probably enjoy the conversation much more knowing you don’t have to stress over how you’ll end it.

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