Party Pitfalls: How to Avoid Getting Cornered
Dear Ms. Demeanor:
When you're at a party and you run out of things to say, how do you excuse yourself and move on?
Leaving someone alone at a party is unkind, no matter how tactful you are. Even if your companion is a bore, he or she deserves some sort of end to your encounter. Eventually, others may join your duo, but even then, don't just drift away. Once everyone is involved in conversation, it's perfectly acceptable for you to say, for example, "I'm going to refill my drink," and excuse yourself.
When you're talking one-on-one, it's a bit more difficult. Try to make eye contact with someone else -- without obviously looking away from your companion -- and signal that person to join you. Then you can make introductions, giving each some information about the other to start a conversation. Once they're chatting, you can excuse yourself with, "I'm glad we could catch up with each other tonight." Then just walk away.
What if no one comes to your rescue? Try, "Let's go over by the buffet. I think you'd like Todd Campion, and he's right there." Remember that everybody who goes to a party expects to speak with several people, not just one. There's no need to assume total responsibility for your new acquaintance's good time. Still, a guest who makes fellow partygoers feel welcome and relaxed is high on anyone's guest list. The truth is, a guest has as much responsibility to contribute to a party's success as the host does.
Good luck and pleasant partying.