Even Houdini would have had trouble escaping from a boring party conversation! So here’s how to get out of some sticky situations, courtesy of Real Simple magazine.

  • That BORING conversation. Etiquette expert Letitia Baldridge, the former social secretary to Jaqueline Kennedy, says politeness requires that you talk to the person for eight minutes, no matter how dull they are. After that, you can make a graceful exit without offending them. If you’re at a party, excuse yourself to get some food, a drink, make a phone call or help the hostess. Make sure you follow through so they don’t feel ditched. Another tip is to introduce the bore to someone else, and then excuse yourself while they’re involved in a conversation. Who knows? They just might hit it off!
  • You’re having a spat with your partner and you don’t want to discuss it anymore. Do you have to finish what you started? David Ransburg, a therapist at the Family Institute at Northwestern University in Illinois, says NO! In fact, you shouldn’t continue with the discussion until you’re calm. Because when you get emotional, you can’t access the part of your brain that’s responsible for logical thinking and your IQ can drop by as much as 15 points! Which means you’re more likely to say something you’ll wish you could take back. So, call a time out. Tell your partner that you both need a 20-minute break so you can come back and discuss things rationally. That’s typically how long your brain needs to start thinking logically again.
  • Your uncle’s telling you how he won the 1987 national hot-dog eating contest for the 5th time! Do you let him know you’ve heard it before? Margaret Shepherd, co-author of The Art of Civilized Conversation, says if the story is longer than a minute or two, interrupt and tell him that you’ve heard – and enjoyed – that once story before. No need to mention the other three times. Then segue to a different topic. Some people just like to talk. So as long as you’re discussing SOMETHING, he’ll be happy.