Well, this has been fun...

Some pointers on ending conversations gracefully

If you’re feeling all “Zoom-ed” out lately, you’re not alone. The virtual meetings; family check-ins; happy hours…it’s a lot. And, even if you find it enjoyable—or at least productive—to connect with friends, family, and colleagues online, you’ve probably wished some of your recent chats would have ended sooner than they did. Ditto: neighborly conversations in the street or across the fence.

The problem is, your go-to excuses have become less believable in this era of quarantine: “Oh shoot, we have to run to soccer practice/a birthday party/the store/any actual place beyond your own four walls!”

We were struck by this quote in a recent article from “The Atlantic”:

“…a 33-year-old in Southern California who works in marketing has noticed that on several group calls lately, ‘as soon as I say something, then everyone else leaves too … Somebody needs to end it, but nobody wants to be the one [to do so].’”

And we realized: it’s time to do everyone a favor and call “time” when you’re conversation-ed out. But how to do so gracefully?

Your old excuses may still be valid, with a few tweaks!

As in pre-quarantine days, you still have plenty of demands on your time—and things/people/pets that require attention throughout the day. Not to mention other social/school/work engagements.

It’s completely acceptable to say: “Okay, I have to scoot…”
“I promised to relieve my spouse from virtual-learning troubleshooting/baby duty/etc. at X time.”
“It’s time for my kid to eat/nap/whatever—and he/she will go bonkers if I don’t get this sorted out ASAP.”
“We’re trying to stick to a routine, and it’s almost time for our daily stroll/outdoor playtime/afternoon snack time.”
“The dog is going to jump out the window if I don’t take him on a walk.”
“My kid has a virtual ballet class/violin lesson/school thing coming up.”
“I have a work call I need to get ready for.”
“Our food delivery just got here.”

And what’s that they say about honesty? Oh yea, it’s a virtue…

There’s a good chance you’ve been on a virtual call, or stuck talking to your neighbor, when, honestly, you really needed to pee. Or you’re suddenly starving. Or you’re at a total loss for any new topic of discussion. It happens to all of us! If you know your audience well, and know they won’t take any offense, tell it like it is.

Say, “Hey, I have to run…”
“Nature calls!”
“I’m all talked out!”
“That ice cream in the freezer isn’t going to eat itself!”
“It’s time for me to take a nap/get some beauty sleep/get back to binge-watching X!”

Bottom line: if you feel like a conversation is getting uncomfortably long, chances are the other people/person involved feel the same way. Tell them it was great to catch up, and—if you actually want to schedule another such virtual hangout—“we should do it again soon/in a few weeks/next month.”

Let’s make an effort to give others (and ourselves) a little extra grace—and promise to be real with each other—at this time when everything seems upside down.

Well, this has been great, but the kettle is whistling, today’s crossword puzzle is feeling neglected, and Junior’s tambourine lessons start pronto…sorry to run!

If you have any awesome tips for graciously extricating yourself from social interactions these days, we’d love to hear.

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