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Avoiding Unpleasant Conversations

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Emotional Health related image Photo: Getty Images

It’s party season, and that means lots of socializing even with people you don’t normally spend much time with. Guess what? There’s usually a reason why some people aren’t high on your socialization list!

Some people are too opinionated, too conservative, too liberal, too religious, too negative, too adversarial; let’s face it, some people are just a pain to be around, and when we are stressed it’s both harder to brush them off and more important to do so.

The result is even more stress and that’s why we try to avoid them. With all of the holiday parties, though, that is difficult if not impossible.

Let’s say you are at one of those parties and someone approaches you and starts in on a subject that you find unpleasant or uncomfortable. What to do?

If you engage then you will be uncomfortable. If you simply endure it, you will be uncomfortable. The thought of leaving or changing the subject may also make you uncomfortable depending the personalities involved.

Keep this in mind: it doesn’t matter what the subject is or why you find it objectionable, if you don’t want to talk about it you don’t have to. PERIOD.

My advice is this: simply state that you don’t want to talk about it. “I’d rather not talk about that.” Don’t get mad or confrontational; simply say it in a conversational matter-of-fact tone, remembering that you have the right to talk about or NOT talk about whatever you choose. It’s not unreasonable of you, and it’s not rude. The fact is that the OTHER person is being unreasonable and rude if they insist on continuing the conversation despite your objection.

If the other party won’t let it go, don’t get angry or argumentative because that will only make a stressful situation worse. Try changing the subject. Or, simply find a reason to leave gracefully. Here are a few to get you started:

“I need to get some of those mushroom thingys before they‘re all gone.”
“I need to refresh my drink.”
“I have to go to the bathroom.”
“Oh, there’s Frank; I need to ask him something.”

Remember, it is 100 percent within your right to decline to engage in a conversation, and it doesn’t matter why.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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