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  • Tracy Hooper

How to Exit a Conversation When Not Included

Several years ago, I presented a Confidence Project training to a group of senior sales executives at a large media company. We role played workplace scenarios including, how do you introduce yourself? How do you introduce somebody else? How do know when to jump into a conversation? Or know when not to enter a conversation? We were covering the fundamentals along with what everyone wants to learn, How do you get out? How do you exit a conversation with Confidence? At one point, a gentleman asked me, “So, what do you do when you're in a group conversation and you’re not being included?” I thought, “Wow. These are successful salespeople, and they can still get their Confidence rattled.” We all can. I said, “Here’s what you do. Wait for a brief pause and with a pleasant facial expression say, “’You know what everybody, I’ll let you all finish your conversation. Take care.’ And then walk away with your dignity intact.” And then we role-played that specific skill. Recently, I had the same experience as that media salesman. I was at a conference, having a fascinating conversation with an electrical engineer. After about 10-15 minutes, a man came over who recognized the engineer and said, “Hey, how ‘ya doin’?” And he started talking directly to my conversation partner. And mostly ignored me. Turns out, the new guy was a physicist and wanted to "talk shop" with the engineer. I asked a few questions and tried to add to the conversation, but it didn't take long to figure out that I was not going to be included. So, I said, “You know what, you guys, I’ll let you finish your conversation. Take care.” And I walked away with my dignity intact.

As film director, Ava DuVernay says about Oprah Winfrey, “She does not have to tolerate what does not nourish her.” Neither do I. And, neither do you. Thanks for reading.

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