It happens to all of us -- finding ourselves caught in a dialogue that's too long, uncomfortable, or downright awkward.

Getting out of those exchanges with grace is a real skill, one that Susanna Theo teaches all over the world. Based in Hampton Roads, she founded Protocol & Etiquette Services and is the author of Civility Begins with a Smile.

"You don't have to put anybody out," Theo says. "You don't have to get them upset with you." She says there are simple and elegant ways of escaping annoying conversation.

Lesson #1: When a chat becomes difficult because there is a lot going on around you, acknowledge your interest in that person's thoughts, but suggest talking at a less busy time.

"It really catches people off guard to the point that, 'Hey, you really wanna hear me. You really wanna talk with me,'" Theo says.

Lesson #2: When a discussion becomes uncomfortable, change the subject.

"It could be as simple as 'Wow, it's so warm out today'," Theo says. "It doesn't have to be something huge to derail the conversation."

Lesson #3: When a conversation is carrying on way too long, politely excuse yourself, but not before expressing appreciation.

"You handle it that way," says Theo. "'I'm so happy about your excitement.' I'm always looking for the positive words to go first."

Finally, if all else fails, remember to just be nice. "It's putting that kindness out there ahead of maybe what you may not want to really talk about or hear about," Theo says.

To learn more about Protocol & Etiquette Services, visit To learn more about Theo's book, Civility Begins with a Smile, visit