In this first in a series called “Ask Ronnie J,” I am going to answer questions passed my way.

“I find myself feeling stuck at parties talking to some people. I try to be polite, smile, and pretend to enjoy the conversation, but they keep talking. How can I get out of a conversation with someone who I don’t want to talk to anymore?” 

You’ve been reading books on developing your conversational skills, haven’t you? Good for you. I’m glad to hear that you’re out there practicing your conversation skills with strangers.  People who are developing social skills should look for opportunities to practice conversation, especially with strangers. It may go well or it may go horribly, but we need the practice anyway if we are to become a true “Social Shiner.”

We want people to talk to us, right?

For many of us who aren’t strong conversationalists, people who like to talk a lot can be our saviors. We can listen, be engaging in social activity, while they do all the work of thinking of what to say and what topics to talk about. It’s like dancing — when one person is a better dancer, you let them lead, while you follow. Take this method and apply it to conversation and you can be a passive participant in conversation. Congratulations, you’re socializing!

You should welcome invitations to conversation from people, but as you get more and more opportunities to converse, you will need an additional skill to manage your conversations.

You now need a completely new skill in conversations: knowing when to end it.

When I was 18, I lived in a dingy apartment with 3 roommates. One night, 2 of us were sitting in the living room watching TV, relaxing. One roommate comes home and starts talking to us. I’m not sure what he started off talking  about, but he eventually talked about sharks and other aquatic animals. Keep in mind, I had zero social skills, so I was not saying much at all. But he kept talking. Neither of us showed interest in aquatic animals. He kept talking. He finally said he should go to the shower and left us alone. I looked down at my watch. And entire hour and 15 minutes had passed since he got home!

How do we end conversations anyway? Well, if you are a passive participant like me in the above story, it’s quite simple: you wait for the person to end the conversation for you. That’s the end :).

And what if the person never ends it? Of course, some people will eventually need to leave the party, go to the bathroom, or go home. But, when will that be? 5 minutes later? 10 minutes later?

Here are 3 great ways to end conversations with social grace:


Method 1: Escape to the bathroom

“Excuse me, I have to use the restroom.”

This never fails. No one is going to object to you using the bathroom. It will give you time to recharge yourself. By the time you get back, the person you were talking to should be talking to someone else. Or if you simply wanted an exit strategy, just leave!

Method 2: You’re going to talk with other people

“It was a pleasure chatting with you, but I need to chat with my friend over there.”


“That’s awesome. Hey, I’m going to go get to know some of the other people here.” 

At social gatherings, everyone should understand that people will want to move around and chat up people here and there. It keeps the excitement going, as it’s always fun and important to greet at least a handful of people at an event, compared to only 1 person.

Note: this method will require more social grace, as you will then have to introduce yourself to someone now or inject yourself elsewhere, otherwise you look like you just wanted an excuse to end the conversation.

Method 3: The graceful close

“Hey, it was great chatting with you…” 


“Hey, it was great catching up with you…” 

This is a very forward and bold way to end a conversation. Instead of say why you need to remove yourself, you’re simply saying that this is the end of the conversation and that it was a great conversation (even if it wasn’t! remember, we want to have social grace). The “…” means that you add something here so that it’s not so abrupt. It can be anything!

  • “… I’m going to go to the bathroom”
  • “… I’m going to talk with others at the party”
  • “… I’m going to move around a bit”
  • “… I’ll see you later”
  • “… I’ve got to go”
  • “… my kids are waiting for me at home”
  • “… my dog is waiting for me to feed it”
  •  “… I’m pretty tired and I’m going to call it a night”


As you can see, it doesn’t matter what you say to end a conversation. It really is doing anything to push towards a close without saying “you’re boring, so please stop talking.” That is the opposite of social skills.

So, remember a few lines! The next time you feel a conversation extending too long, pull it out and use it! And even more importantly, watch how other people will eject themselves from conversations with you! They’re using the exact same strategy!