All of us nervous nellies have been there at one point or another—you unexpectedly run into a friend or acquaintance, and instead of having hours to plan out a conversation in your head line-by-line, you’re forced to converse on the fly. But improvisation is only for jazz cats and self-proclaimed comedians, and the longer you stay in this conversation the more likely they are to realize that you have crippling social anxiety. Here are 5 ways to cut off the conversation before it gets to that point.
1. Say you’re late for a class
This one’s a good excuse during normal business hours, but if you accidentally use it in the evening or on a weekend they’re gonna start asking questions, and the last thing we want is more conversation. Make sure to ask them where they’re headed before you commit to an exit direction. If you end up walking the same way, just take a cyanide capsule like the spies in the movies so as to avoid whatever torture lies ahead.
2. Get a cat
By getting a cat, you have an irrevocable get-out-of-anything pass if you just say you have to get home to feed/water/clothe them. Only a monster would expect you to deprive an animal of their basic needs. Plus, the cat is a good substitute for the kind of deeper relationships you’d have if you let your interactions go any further than necessary.
3. Go to the bathroom
It’s the perfect party excuse. Just wait for any minor break in the conversation, proclaim your need to pee, and go hang out in the bathroom long enough for your associate to move on to a more self-assured conversationalist. While you wait, come up with an excuse for why you’ve peed ten times in the last two hours. A good go-to is claiming that you have a bladder infection. UTIs are in right now—they’re cool and curable. Anxiety, on the other hand, can’t be cured by cranberry juice unless it’s mixed with Smirnoff.
4. Generously offer to “let them go”
By saying “alright then, I’ll let ya go now,” you imply that you’d love to stay and talk, but you know their time is valuable and don’t want to take up any more. This distracts your subject with flattery, hypnotizing them into thinking that you’re ending the conversation with their best interests in mind. Ah, martyrdom: the most selfish way to be selfless!
5. Let the conversation come to a natural stopping point
Nah, I’m just kidding, can you imagine? The natural stopping point could be minutes, even hours into the conversation, and by then they’ll have realized how anxious you are. Sure, they may also develop a closer relationship with you in which you mutually support one another through your insecurities and fears, enjoying a long and prosperous friendship with one another, but you can’t take that risk.