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How to Get Rid of People That Overstay Their Welcome

by Elise Wile, studioD

When you have ants you want out of your house, you can call a pest control service. Unwelcome guests, however, are not so easy to get rid of. Whether it's a neighbor who has stopped by for a "quick" chat that has turned into a lengthy visit or a colleague who enjoys hanging out in your office when you would rather be working, dealing with such situations can be awkward. When this situation arises, try a few different strategies until you hit upon one that works.

Prepare in Advance

If you know in advance that you'll be spending time with an over-talkative friend or acquaintance, plan your escape in advance. Set an alert on your phone to notify you of an impending "appointment" during the visit, so you'll be able to comfortably make your apologies and end the conversation. You can also start out your visit by saying something like, "It's good to see you. I need to let you know that I have another commitment in half an hour, so we'll have to keep this visit short."


Let the person know you're ready to have some alone time by making excuses. Yawn and mention how you didn't get very much sleep last night and need to lie down for a bit. Talk about how stressed out you are that you have a deadline coming up in few hours that you have yet to meet. With luck, the person you want to leave will say, "I'll get going so you can catch up on your work."

Body Language

A nonverbal intimation can often send a stronger message than mere words. In fact, our gestures, facial expressions and other forms of nonverbal communication often speak the loudest, according to the nonprofit HelpGuide.org. When it's two hours after the last plate has been cleared and your dinner guests show no sign of leaving, let your body do the talking. Stand up and blow out the candles on the table. Fold the tablecloth. Your actions will show that you are no longer content sitting and discussing a politician's foibles while the dishes sit in the sink.

The Direct Approach

Sometimes, people don't understand body language or words that are not absolutely clear. If your previous efforts don't work, you have no choice but to simply tell the person they must leave. You can use what communication professional and Psychology Today columnist Preston Ni calls "diplomatic expressions." For example, you might say, "It's important to me to have time this afternoon to finish my report, so we'll have to talk some other time." Or you could say, "I made a promise to myself that I would get enough sleep, so I'm going to call it a night. Can I walk you to your car?"

About the Author

Elise Wile has been a writer since 2003. Holding a master's degree in curriculum and Instruction, she has written training materials for three school districts. Her expertise includes mentoring, serving at-risk students and corporate training.

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