3 Ways to (kindly) Leave Awkward Holiday Conversations

‘Tis the season to see people we haven’t seen all year, attend parties with folks we don’t know very well, and visit with family and extended family. Between sips of eggnog and bites of cookies, there will be lots of catching up and potentially some awkward conversations. You know the ones – where your 3rd cousin twice removed starts probing for some family gossip, or the partner of a colleague in another department starts trying to dig for juicy office information. There are always going to be people who want to tell other peoples’ stories, but you don’t have to join in.

When you find yourself stuck in one of those not-so-happy-holiday-times, here are some ways to extract yourself, kindly, so you can get back to the holiday cheer!

  • This one’s for you if this entire concept makes you feel REALLY uncomfortable, but you know you want to stop participating in the gossip scene: I need some more eggnog/punch/tea/vodka. Shall I get you some, too? –This gives you the perfect reason to walk away and leave the conversation. If you need to return to that person, use the break to change the subject.
  • This one’s for you if you’re comfortable enough to permanently exit the conversation: I just remembered that I need to find Suzie, Joe, Sally, etc., before they leave, please excuse me. –This one helps you physically exit the space.
  • This one’s for you if you’re feeling like a rock-star with boundaries: It’s great to see you, and I’d love to hear more about you. I’m not comfortable discussing someone else’s situation, so tell me about your plans for New Year’s Eve! –This one redirects the conversation while kindly letting the other person know your feelings on gossip. 

Whatever level you’re at, remember that you have a choice. You don’t need to endure the holiday gossip circuit. Use these ideas to create holidays that feel how you want them to feel, and maximize your holiday cheer!


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