Note the desperate measures above are probably not recommended cocktail party behaviour.
We've all been there. Sandwiched between the wall and perhaps an individual intent on telling us the minutest details of their life.
For me, a particular version of this torture involves someone telling me their intricate financial dealings. I don't want to know that they've sold x shares this week, made y amount, saved z by driving ten miles out of their way to buy groceries. Finances bore me silly and I have the bank balance to prove it.
I'm sure each of us has a similar scenario.
How to escape without seeming rude?
The good news is that you no longer need to fumble for a polite excuse. Bores, belligerents and buffoons should be avoided for legitimate health reasons according to a new study by Professor Eli Finkel of Northwestern University.
Professor Finkel claims that spending any time in the company of dull, difficult people can drain your ability to make sensible decisions and exert self-control. People forced to work or interact with difficult individuals are left mentally exhausted and far less able to do anything useful for a significant time.
In the study, volunteers were asked to work in pairs to manoeuvre an icon around a computer maze, with one volunteer giving the instructions, the other moving the joystick. Those operating the joysticks were actors, primed to respond to instructions in slow, stupid, inefficient and generally irritating ways.
Professor Finkel states that high maintenance or difficult interactions exert large demands on psychic energy because it becomes harder to regulate our own behaviour, such as restraining ourselves from committing acts of violence.
While I'm certain I wouldn't extend to violence, I'm sure my behaviours in response to that experimental situation would prove his point admirably. What about you?
Now, let me tell you about all about my toilet roll holder collection....
Finkel, E. J., Campbell, W. K., Brunell, A. B., Dalton, A. N., Chartrand, T. L., & Scarbeck, S. J. (in press). High-maintenance interaction: Inefficient social coordination impairs self-regulation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.