This seems like an incredibly basic question, but one I nonetheless have trouble with. In an office environment, can anyone give advice on how to interrupt an ongoing conversation between co-workers when I need to speak to one of them (now or later), without creating awkwardness?
Have you found it best to interrupt people deep in conversation saying, "Can we talk when you have 5 minutes?" implying they have the duty to follow up.
Ideally I say the one already conversing would deftly say to his co-locutor, "Excuse me for a moment," then turn to the newcomer and either say, "Do you need something?" or else, "I'm sorry, I will be with you in 10 minutes."
Method 2 relies on the one speaking to be situationally aware – I admit I have failed in this when deeply engrossed in a technical topic – but creates an uncomfortable situation when the speaker is not. Even if the ongoing discussion is important, I feel someone who made to effort to seek me out in person has earned a minimum level of acknowledgement.
Method 1 seems deceptively simple, but I have occasionally been (what I consider to be rudely) rebuffed or ignored when attempting that approach.
I find it particularly dismaying when the ones conversing are clearly discussing a fishing trip or something entirely personal, while the newcomer needs to conduct business. With that said, two people have every right to discuss these things at work.
Strangely, I cannot recall this being a problem in school, or in any context prior to the professional work environment. Is it lack of proper education in manners, or some idiosyncrasy of corporate life, that engenders this difficulty?
My hope with this question is to hear advice or tactics found to be successful, while being as polite as possible, in this situation.