"an interaction in an open space has a diameter. In sociologist Erving Goffman’s study, the range in the United States was no closer than one and a half feet and no farther than three feet or so."
"If you want to make an exit, you can use your body as a signal. Beginning in small increments, you can step or lean outside that interaction zone."
"Words work too. Often, all you need is a reason or a friendly parting line. “I have to run”; “I need to get another drink”; “do you know where the bathroom is?”; “I have to check on my friend”; “hey, it was nice talking to you”; or glancing at your phone and saying “my friend (or partner, or babysitter) is texting me,” things like that."
"To make a clean exit, you also have to contend with which person has the strongest claim to “leave-taking rights” in the conversation. In general, the person who started the interaction has priority to end it. ... There is a tacit understanding that you have to make sure the person who started the conversation got what they needed."
"this can be abused — and you end up forced to be rude in order to exit. Power matters, too. When there is a real or perceived differential in power or status, the person with more gravitas has the right to end the interaction and may choose to do so politely or not."