Dear Etiquette Gran,
A little while ago I realised that I really don’t like other people. This is a bit problematic, because other people are everywhere. They’re at my workplace, they’re in my supermarket, they’re on my roads. Worse, I have to go out to networking events in the name of my job, and inevitably I end up talking to people, and I’m bored and want to gnaw my limbs off. Please help.
– Solitary of Dannevirke
To paraphrase Sartre, hell is other people, but the Devil sure is in the details.
You can’t escape these networking events – unless you change jobs and become a professional hermit, thus avoiding human contact entirely – but you can change the way you deal with them.
Next time you’re trapped in a tedious, never- ending conversation with Chatty Cathy or Boring Barry, you want to aim to make a swift and graceful escape as soon as possible. Don’t ask questions, simply ‘mm-hmm’, and when Baz pauses for breath, suddenly realise your drink is empty (it will be, oh it will be) and/or you have to go to the bathroom. Try ‘It’s been nice chatting’ and ‘Sorry to cut it short’. Practise in front of the bathroom mirror for increased sincerity.
Professional hermit would be a great title for a business card, but I’m not sure hermits are in hot demand in the market right now.