How to Navigate Conversations

Be respectful of others when joining a conversation already in progress. If two people are talking animatedly and seem very engrossed on their topic, do not barge in to announce your recent promotion. Wait until there is a natural lull in the conversation before introducing yourself. If the conversation is not likely to end anytime soon, move on and come back later.

On the other hand, be open to others that wish to join your conversation. If you are in the middle of speaking and you can tell someone is waiting to talk to you, acknowledge the person with a quick nod, but finish your story. You can be polite without changing course mid-sentence. If the person has arrived at a break in the conversation, welcome them by offering a quick summary of what your group has been discussing. For example, “We were just talking about the Saints game on Saturday.”

You also don’t want to monopolize someone’s time, nor do you wish to have your time usurped by one individual. If you discover you have a lot to talk about with one particular person, make plans to meet for coffee and then continue circulating.

Alternatively, if someone is monopolizing all of your time and you can't seem to break away no matter how hard you try, use one of the following emergency escape plans:

1. Excuse yourself to use the restroom

2. Look down at your phone, act shocked, and excuse yourself to make a call

3. Say you need to get something from your car

4. Tell the person you've enjoyed chatting and that you're going to go meet a few other people now.