How To Get Out of Awkward Situations

In a perfect world, you’d be able to get out of uncomfortable situations with a quick tug of your invisibility cloak. But in the real world, you’ve got to man up to unpleasant moments. Or, you know, lie like your life depends on it.

Here, our advice for getting out of six common, cringe-worthy situations.

the work obligation

The situation: The daughter of a friend of a colleague wants to meet to chat about her career. She is 22 and would like to do “um, something with, like, social media?”

How to get out of it: If you can stomach it, set up a quick meeting. (Karma, dude.) But if you just can’t, feign a packed schedule, and send her a list of legit useful resources for networking and building experience in the field.

The Question You Can’t Answer

The situation: You’re in an important meeting and a higher-up asks you a question you can’t answer.

How to get out of it: Offer to look into it, then change the subject discreetly. Say something like, “That’s a great question--and I’ll be sure to ask Miranda about it when I see her next. Now, let’s also consider…” Then steer the conversation to a topic you’re more familiar with.

The cocktail chitchat that just won’t end

The situation: You’ve been trapped in a less-than-gripping conversation at a party--for 15 minutes.

How to get out of it: Frown and point at your glass of wine. Murmur, “To be continued!” Then slink away to the bathroom.

the “let’s do drinks”

The situation: You run into an old friend from college whom you haven’t kept in touch with--on purpose. She insists the two of you should get a drink. 

How to get out of it: See if you can change it to coffee. Drinks go on forever. A coffee date you can keep to 20 minutes.

the “let’s do love”

The situation: No-Spark Clark wants to take you to dinner. You’d rather spend the evening with Mussolini.

How to get out of it: Be honest and tell him you think you’d be better as pals. There’s nothing like a good friend-zone plea to kill the mood.

The Really Sweet Gesture That Makes You Want to Die

The situation: Your mother-in-law wants to “treat” you to a two-day knitting convention in Maine.

How to get out of it: Lie like the wimp-ass daughter-in-law you are. “Oh, no! That weekend? I’ve got two baby showers and nonrefundable tickets to Hedwig. Bummer!”