The conundrum of ending a conversation

Q. I am a new author and want to make a great impression at book signings. How do I politely continue to pay attention to everyone around me when I have one individual who wants to monopolize the time I have for everyone?
A. S., Lafayette LA


It can get hectic at a signing and staying focused is key. Give your full attention to each person as they approach the table. Ask to whom they want you to sign the book and what the spelling of the name is. Even a name as simple as “John” can be spelled “Jon.”

If the person tries to strike up a conversation or monopolize your time, not only is it appropriate to end the conversation, it’s the considerate action to respect the other people who have come to meet you and have their books signed. You can be direct without being rude by saying, “I’ve enjoyed talking with you but, I should keep signing books for the other people who have come here today. Thank you so much for stopping by.” And then turn to and greet the next person.

Q. I received a handwritten note from my manager saying that she was “impressed with my development in my new role” and has noticed how I am “always trying to improve our processes,” and thanks for my continued good work in my newly appointed position. My question is this: Do I respond in kind and send her a thank you note for her praise, do I thank her verbally when next I see her, or do I not respond at all?
R. S., Cascade, WI
I advise managers to recognize and compliment employees’ effort and initiative. That your manager has made the extra effort to put that compliment in written form is great. It’s now a part of the record of your work. Acknowledging her compliment by thanking her verbally is totally appropriate. It can be as simple as poking your head in her door and saying, “Ms. Smith, I just got your note and I wanted to thank you. I’m really enjoying working here.”

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