We live in trying times and few things are more trying than getting stuck in a conversation when you'd rather be elsewhere. Here are some sure-fire methods to re-achieve sweet freedom:

ON THE TELEPHONE

1. "I should let you go."

This technique cleverly allows the other person to "save face" by implying that you're imposing upon the other person rather than the other way around. The disadvantage is that the other person might not take the hint.

2. "I hate to interrupt, but I simply must take a bio-break."

Hard to argue with this one. If the other person suggests you call back, explain that the restroom on your floor (or in your house) is broken and it will be a while before you get back to your desk.

3. "So what's your opinion on the elections in Kasakhstan?"

Change the subject to something that the other person will find boring. Insist upon discussing it until the other person goes away of his or her own accord. Revenge!

4. "Let's agree to disagree."

This is the best approach if the other person is highly opinionated and you don't want to bother arguing with them. Warning: some people (especially if the subject matter is religion or politics) will not let it drop. In that case, jump to #6 or #7 below.

5. "Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Uh-huh."

Let your mind escape even whilst you must remain on the phone. Use this time to answer emails, read the news, surf the Web , etc. After a while, segue to "I should let you go." Repeat as necessary.

6. "Let's discuss this another time. I'm too busy to give it my full attention."

My personal favorite. It has the face-saving grace of "I should let you go" with an extra burst of "my time is valuable, you idiot."

7. "What? What? Sorry... (pause) ...signal... (pause) ...breaking up... (hang up)"

Self-explanatory. Warning: this technique is not entirely effective when the other person knows you're on a land line.

AT CONFERENCES

8. "Let's get Nathan in on this."

Wait until somebody you don't particularly like (Nathan, in this case) is passing by. Grab Nathan by the elbow and guide him into the circle. As the speaker turns to Nathan, say "I'll rejoin the conversation in a bit." Then make yourself scarce.

9. "Excuse me. I have to rescue Olivia from a conversation. She just gave me the signal."

This technique has the added benefit of subtly reminding the other person that some conversations are unwelcome.

10. "I hate to interrupt you, but I simply must take a bio-break."

You might remember this from the "On The Telephone" section above. The technique works during conferences if the other person is of the opposite sex. If not, your only recourse is, after you've delivered the line, to immediately turn and stride away so fast that the can't easily be followed. In the unlikely event that you ARE followed, hide in a stall until the other person goes away. At this point, however, be aware that you've left the realm of "gracefully."

11. "Gotta take this call!... (explaining) My phone is on vibrate."

Pretend that your phone is ringing. Proceed immediately to some place you can take a call in privacy, then pretend to take one. If the Bore continues to watch you expecting your return, pretend to become agitated, end the "call" with a scowl, and then stalk off as if you've got a score to settle. With any luck the other person will avoid you for the rest of the conference.

12. "Hey, what time is it?"

Whatever time it turns out to be, claim that "I'm late for a... a thing." Or something more plausible. Your choice.

13. "I need to freshen my drink before the open bar closes."

Turn immediately and proceed to the bar. This technique is of limited effectiveness if 1) the open bar will remain open for at least another hour or 2) there is no open bar.

Published on: Sep 6, 2016
Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you'll never miss a post.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.