“What should you do when you’re at a party having a conversation with someone, and you suddenly realize they are obviously not listening?” writes a reader named JS.
“You are talking away, when you notice the person you are addressing is straining to hear another conversation going on nearby,” she writes. “How does one handle this situation?”
Cut your losses, JS. It’s generally best to bail out of a bad party conversation, rather than try to resuscitate it. Remember, you’re at a party, which means there are plenty of other people standing around with the expectation of making chitchat. It’s easy pickings. The trick is to avoid appearing rude as you make your escape. But if the person you’re talking to is already distracted, it should be easy enough to excuse yourself to get another drink (or appetizer, or whatever, depending on the party). Say, “Can I bring you something?”
The answer will probably be no—otherwise the person you’re talking to would already be getting whatever it is you’re pretending to get—and you’ll be off the hook. If for some reason the person says, “Yes, bring me a glass of wine and one of those tiny lamb chops I saw go by a minute ago,” smile sweetly and wander away. Don’t worry—she’ll forget about it as soon as she turns her attention back to whatever was so captivating a moment ago.
(image via RealSimple.com)