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Diplomacy. Or, how to get out of an awkward conversation

2ke0f

Awkward conversations are a part of life. You’ve likely had many. But today is different. It’s election day. So if you’ve managed to avoid awkward or infuriating conversations with Trump-supporting friends, relatives, or colleagues, you’re unlikely able to avoid it today. What can you do to reduce the pain — and end the conversation as quickly as possible with as few casualties as possible?

The soft skills associated with navigating these treacherous waters is called diplomacy and leaders do it all the time. Here are some tips to help you survive:

  1. Go back to the original topic. It’s unlikely that you began the conversation about Hillary being a child-eating witch, so try to bring the conversation full circle and back to the unrelated initial topic. This signals that the current conversation is over without creating a non-sequitur. If they go back to their misguided talking points, it’ll seem completely out of context – but it’ll be up to you to keep going back to square one.
  2. Don’t lie if you need to escape. Inventing excuses is tempting, but no one believes that your incessant eye-twitching indicates a stroke. The offender will usually find you later and call you out, leading to an even more painful conversation. So think of things you need to do and go with those. Bathroom works, in a pinch. This reduces the suspicion that your exit is about the other person.
  3. Push them on someone else or bring someone in. It’s every man and woman for themselves out there. Got a friend nearby? Introduce the Trump supported to someone else and quietly walk away. Or, if you’re not a cruel monster, have them introduce you to someone you think may be a more interesting conversation partner. With three or more people involved, it’s easier to shift topics away from lunacy.
  4. Be as graceful as you can. I know, you want to slap some sense into this person. I’m tempted to suggest you to do it. But don’t. When they go low, we go high. Try to reframe and recap what was discussed in a positive way and thank the person for their time and perspective. Remember to use their name when you thank them (it builds rapport and helps you to associate a big STOP sign in your head for future reference). This will help to end things on a high note, even if you’re dying on the inside.

I hope these tips help with any Trump-related conversations today as well as just about any awkward conversation you may have in the future.

Now if you haven’t already, go out and vote. Unless you’re voting for Donald Trump, in which case I invite you to not vote – and never read my blog again.

 

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