Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Conversational Escape Hatch

Conversations are a necessary part of office life, but be careful when entering a conversation that you don’t bite off more than you can chew. A simple greeting such as “how are you” can be a catalyst for a five minute monologue on the intricate details of the health of someone’s sinuses. A passing remark on the universal loveliness of the party pie may begin a vegan diatribe on the obvious similarities between meat and murder. Even making a humorous but accurate criticism of one of your superiors while they are standing right behind you may start a regrettable, albeit one-sided, exchange.

Once you find yourself in troubled conversational waters you need a cunning strategy for escape. The first temptation is to pretend to be busy, but your co-workers may see through this. Remember, the only reason many people are still employed here is that they know how to pretend to be busy.

Acting crazy, on the other hand, is perfect. No-one wants to be caught talking to the insane person (after all that is exactly what you are trying to avoid). Look suddenly into a space just above and to the left of the speaker’s face and say “Did you feel that? As if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.” Then vaguely wander off, as if looking for the source of the disturbance.

A final tip: under no circumstance should you say “this is fascinating, but I really need to go to the toilet”. Firstly, it will it give the speaker inspiration for a whole new thread of uncomfortable conversation topics that will haunt you until your dying day. But more horrifically, it will allow them to follow you into the facilities to complete their anecdote while simultaneously, if you are very very lucky, relieving their bladder.

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