How to Talk Your Way Out of Anything

Most Popular

Star Trek's Jean Luc Picard had a certain savoir faire, a style of getting out of dilemmas smoothly and quickly — like when he tricked "Q" into promising never to meddle with humanity. I'm no Starfleet captain; I am an average 30-something who dislikes speeding tickets, jealous girlfriends, and unnecessary personal inquiries. Over the years, I've learned a few tricks to talk my way out of hot spots, and as a business owner I've studied how others squirm before the sharp end of my own questions. Here are a few tips that have worked....

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Avoid

It worked on Ezra, a high school bully I dodged for an entire semester after beaming him in the back of the head with a juicy seeded grape. The easiest way to talk your way out of a jam is not to put yourself in that situation at all. In short, be prescient and avoid confrontation. Avoidance may delay the inevitable, but it may also give you time to prepare and your adversary time to cool off.

Most Popular



Sidestep

Avoidance is also possible, but not as easy, in conversation. Simply changing the subject rarely works. Instead, create a conversational diversion such as a compliment, "call-waiting," and in extreme cases, poor cell phone reception (that's right, hang up).

Explain (in Detail)

Oscar Levant said, "There's no problem so simple a little explanation can't make complex." Indeed, every time I try to get straight answers from my IT team I end up wading neck-deep in geek-speak. Talk your way out of a jam by making your opponent regret ever asking their elementary question. Elucidate, expose, and expound upon your explanation enigmatically and inscrutably. Add an argumentative tone or a "that's a stupid question" to your verbal defenestration and your sophistry will be complete ... or whatever I just said.

The Power of Suggestion

A master stroke of conflict avoidance, or, as I like to call it, my coup d'état. One morning while driving unbuckled in my convertible, I was waved to the side of the road by a police officer at a seat-belt checkpoint. "Why aren't you wearing your seat belt?" he barked as I stopped the car. And then I did something that would have made Miss Cleo, Mind Freak, and every other intuitive out there proud. "Excuse me?" I answered before I knew what I was doing. "You just watched me take my seat belt off as I was pulling over. You were looking at me the entire time!" The deer-in-the-headlights look on his face was priceless. I had just rocked his entire world, I shook the very foundation of his sanity, I blew his mind — and he let me go! Never underestimate the power of suggestion.

Defer

When confrontation is unavoidable, consider deferring to another authority (your friend, your boss, your mother). I see it regularly as a real estate investor; the person with whom I am speaking is uncertain about giving a price, so they "have to check with someone." It can be an effective, albeit freshman, approach.

Lie, or Be Selectively Honest

In his "The Decay of the Art of Lying," Mark Twain said it best: "Lying is universal — we all do it. Therefore the wise thing is for us diligently to train ourselves to lie thoughtfully, judiciously; to lie with a good object and not an evil one; to lie for others' advantage, and not our own; to lie healingly, charitably, humanely, not cruelly, hurtfully, maliciously; to lie gracefully and graciously, not awkwardly and clumsily; to lie firmly, frankly, squarely, with head erect."

Practice these tips, and at the least, they may get you out of your next traffic stop.

Ian Charles Parrish is an investor and president of Investors United School of Real Estate, America's first professional school for real estate investing. For more advice,

Ask Ian.

Culture
Share
Why "Treating Yourself" Is Such an American Idea
As the daughter of immigrants, I thought self-care was a luxury only rich families could afford.​
Culture
Share
What's New on Netflix in May
What is productivity, anyways?
Culture
Share
Kesha Drops a Powerful New Track with Zedd, Makes Us Feel All the Feels
"This is more than a song. It's a declaration of my truth​."​​
Culture
Share
Stop Everything and Listen to Rihanna and Calvin Harris' New Heart-Stopping Club Banger
⚡️​⚡️​​
GIF
Culture
Share
Kanye West Liked Aziz Ansari's "Famous" Spoof So Much He Made It the Official Video
​​Classic Kanye.​
Culture
Share
This Quadriplegic Woman Has Spent $15,000 to Look Like Barbie
She wants to show other paralyzed women that their disabilities shouldn't prevent them from living out their dreams.​
Culture
Share
7 Wedding Traditions That Have Disappeared Over the Past Century
For most modern wedding guests, a "traditional" American wedding would be totally unrecognizable. ​
Culture
Share
The Death of the Cheesy Rom-Com
True-to-life love stories replaced fairytale cliché​s at this year's Tribeca Film Festival.​
Culture
Share
Why I Refuse to Get Botox
Actress Amanda Peet opens up about being afraid to look like a science project.​
Marie Claire + Lenny
Culture
Share
Good Luck Spotting All the Celebrities in the 'Absolutely Fabulous' Trailer
​​"You've killed Kate Moss!" ​