20+ Graceful Ways to End a Conversation That Work 100 Percent of the Time
In the course of your daily life, you will often find yourself in a conversation with someone who doesn’t seem like they will stop talking anytime soon. The conversation gets tedious and boring, and every cell in your brain starts yelling at you to walk away.
However, for the life of you, you cannot figure out how to end the conversation without appearing rude to the other person. Sometimes, the conversation could be interesting and entertaining, but then you have to bring it to an end because there are some other things you need to do.
Perhaps you are at a networking event and you need to meet other people, or maybe you need to rush somewhere else. Regardless of whether a conversation is enjoyable or crappy, there are moments that will require you to end the conversation, and you have to do it respectfully, without being rude to the other person. So, how do you do it?
Part of being a good conversationalist is knowing how to tactfully exit conversations when you need to. To help you become a better conversationalist, today we give you 20+ graceful ways to end a conversation.
The 20+ techniques in this article are guaranteed to work 100% of the time. Time to say goodbye to those awkward moments…
1. HAVE A CLEAR PURPOSE IN MIND
Conversations take place anywhere, and it can be difficult to plan for every situation where you might find yourself in a conversation with another person.
However, regardless of where you are or what you are doing, you should always have a clear idea of what you are trying to accomplish at that particular moment.
Whether you are walking down the street, going for a drink at the bar, or attending a networking event, you should have a clear purpose on why you are doing it. Are you trying to get to the restaurant? Are you trying to meet some lovely singles at the bar? Is your goal to make a connection with people who might help you advance your career?
You might be wondering what this has to do with ending a conversation. When you find yourself trapped in a conversation, you will have to make a choice between ending the conversation (thereby potentially hurting the other person’s feelings) and not doing what need to do.
When you have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish, it becomes easier to end the conversation, since doing otherwise means you will not accomplish your goals.
Having a clear agenda will also provide you with conversation enders, which we will discuss below.
2. USE CONVERSATION ENDERS
This is where your purpose comes in handy. You are going to use your purpose as the reason why you have to end the conversation. When you let someone know that you are ending the conversation because you need to do something, it is less likely to hurt their feelings.
It shows that the conversation ended not because you were not enjoying it, but because of your other obligations. While it can be tempting to fabricate an excuse just to end the conversation, it will backfire on you in case the other person finds out the truth, and they are unlikely to trust you in future.
For instance, if you tell someone that you have to go because you have a meeting with a client and then they find you having a beer at the bar minutes later, it will be evident that you were just avoiding the conversation with them.
Below are some examples of conversation enders you might use to gracefully exit a conversation. Your conversation ender should be accompanied by a smile and a handshake for maximum effect.
- “It was lovely catching up with you, but I have to rush to a meeting. Hope to see you soon.”
- “Let me go refill my drink – it’s been a pleasure.”
- “I’m going to say hello to my friend over there. It was nice talking with you.”
- “I need to use the restroom. It was great chatting with you.”
- “I have to pick up my kids from school. I’m so glad we met, hoping to see you around.”
3. PURPOSEFULLY HEAD WHERE YOU SAID YOU ARE GOING
The cardinal rule of ending a conversation is that you after taking your exit, you should do exactly what you said you are going to do. If you told someone that you need to get to the restroom, don’t head towards the bar.
Similarly, if you said that you have to go talk to the host, don’t drift to a group of friends instead of the host. If you don’t do what you said you are going to do, it will be apparent to the other person that you were simply not interested in talking to her, and that will definitely hurt her feelings.
4. GET BACK TO THE REASON WHY THE CONVERSATION STARTED
Another great way of ending a conversation smoothly and gracefully is to bring the conversation around to the reason why it started in the first place, if the situation allows it.
For instance, if you started the conversation by asking someone to help you out with a problem at work, you might close the conversation by saying, “Thanks a lot. I appreciate your help with this.”
If you started the conversation by asking someone for a recommendation for something, you can close by telling them that you will check out whatever they recommended.
5. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF LULLS IN THE CONVERSATION
Every conversation will have temporary intervals, especially after a certain topic has been exhausted. These breaks in conversation are usually an opportunity for a new topic to be introduced.
The speaker will usually use words like “so,” “hmm,” “okay,” or “well” as a cue for you either of you to take the conversation in a new direction. However, you can also use the lull as an opportunity to close the conversation. Since you have already exhausted the topic you were talking about, it won’t appear rude that you want to disengage.
For instance, if the other person says “well…” and waits for you to say something to continue the conversation, simply say something like “well, I have had a wonderful time chatting with you, but I have to get going.”
6. USE NATURAL TRANSITIONS
Natural transitions provide you with a great excuse to disengage from a conversation without making it seem like you were not interested in the conversation.
The good thing is that different situations will provide you with some great opportunities that you can use as natural transitions to end the conversation.
For instance, if you were chatting with someone at a sports bar while watching a soccer match and the game ends, you can use that as an excuse to end the conversation and leave.
Alternatively, if you are at a networking event and a speaker takes the podium, you can use that as an opportunity to end the conversation. The best part is that many natural transitions can be identified just as they are about to happen.
Therefore, if you think that there is an opportunity for a natural transition coming up, simply wait for it and then use it to end the conversation.
7. USE A COMMON EXCUSE
There are some common excuses that are universally accepted as a polite way of backing out of a conversation. These excuses provide you with an easy and graceful way to end any conversation, without making the other person feel like you are dumping them. However, these common excuses depend on the situation.
For instance, if you met an acquaintance on the street and struck up a conversation, you can end the conversation by telling them you are running late for a commitment. If you are at work, you could say something like, “Well, I have to get this project done, let’s talk later.”
If you are at a party, you can excuse yourself by telling the other person that you have to go get a drink or use the restroom.
8. MAKE PLANS FOR THE FUTURE
Making plans for the future is a foolproof way of ending a conversation without appearing like a jerk. Making plans for the future shows the other person that the conversation was productive and that you are open to talking with them again, even if you need to leave now. F
or instance, if you have to end a conversation with someone you just met a party but don’t mind hanging out again, you could say, “So, you what are you doing next weekend? How about we go out for lunch?” This also provides you with an opportunity to exchange contacts with your conversation partner.
Simply say “Here is my number, call me so we can make plans about going out for lunch”. However, you should only use this tactic if you intend to follow through with the plans.
9. REFERENCE THE FUTURE
You can still use the future to end a conversation even if you do not want to interact with the other person in future. You can do this by following up on something that needs to be done after the two of you are done talking.
For instance, you could tell say, “Great. I will send you the documents via email once I get back to the office.”
Such a statement references the future and signals the other person that the conversation is about to end. Alternatively, if the other person has shared their future plans with you, you can use these plans to end the conversation by saying, “That’s great. Have a wonderful time when you go kayaking over the weekend.”
10. USE YOUR BODY LANGUAGE TO SIGNIFY THE CONVERSATION IS ENDING
Sometimes, you can use your body language to let the other person know that you want the conversation to end without saying it directly. For instance, if you were seated while having the conversation, standing up will signal the other person that you have somewhere to go.
Such a non-verbal cue coupled with a conversation ender can be very effective. Similarly, checking your watch can also let the other party know that you are running out of time and need to make an exit.
11. INTRODUCE YOUR CONVERSATION PARTNER TO SOMEONE ELSE
If you enjoyed talking to someone but need to leave for some reason, you can make your exit more graceful by offering to introduce them to someone else. This way, they won’t feel abandoned once you leave.
However, you should only introduce them to someone if you genuinely feel that both of them will enjoy talking to each other.
Don’t offer to introduce your conversation partner to someone else just so you can escape. To exit a conversation by introducing the other person to someone else, you might say, “I have had a wonderful time talking to you, Greg. I would like you to meet my friend Mike. He’s also a tech blogger like you.”
After saying that, you can either flag down Mike or walk your conversation partner over to Mike.
12. ASK THEM TO INTRODUCE YOU TO SOMEONE ELSE
If you are looking for a way to end a conversation but you don’t know any other people at an event, you can end the conversation by asking your conversation partner to introduce you to someone else.
This tactic is particularly effective in networking events. This tactic will also make it easier for you to make new connections in an event. Below are some examples of what you might say when requesting your partner to introduce you to other people without sounding rude.
- “I am really interested in machine learning. Do you happen to know someone with experience in that?”
- “I am interested in exploring other career options. Do you know someone who works as a recruiter?”
- “I promised myself that I would make three new connections tonight. Who would you suggest I talk to next?”
If the person has an acquaintance who can help you, they will most probably introduce you to the other person and leave the two of you to talk. If they don’t know anyone, simply say, “Well, I really need to speak to someone who knows about XYZ. I’m going to do the rounds and see if I’ll find someone. It’s been a pleasure speaking with you.”
13. EXCUSE YOURSELF WHEN OTHERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION
This is a great technique in social surroundings like parties and networking events. If many people know each other, it is likely that other people will come over and join the conversation.
Once you notice that other people have joined the conversation, simply excuse yourself to the group and slip away.
If the group has gotten so large that you find it hard to excuse yourself to the entire group, just excuse yourself to the person next to you and make your exit.
14. OFFER TO DELIVER A DRINK
This is another tried and tested tactic for social situations like parties and networking events. Once you feel that you want to leave the conversation, say something like, “I’m going to refill my drink. Would you like me to get you something?” In most cases, people will offer a polite refusal to your offer, and you can then say something like, “Alright. It has been great talking to you Peggy” before heading over to the drinks counter.
If the other person takes up your offer to bring them a drink, go ahead and bring them a drink. After handing them the drink, say something like “It was a pleasure meeting you,” and then continue doing your rounds to meet other people.
15. EXCHANGE CARDS
This is a universally accepted way of ending conversations in networking events. It is also quite easy and effective. Once you feel that the conversation has run its course, simply ask the other person for their card. Just say something like “Can I have your card so that we can talk more about this?”
Once they hand you the card, take a look at it and then say something like, “Thanks for your time. It was great talking with you.” Alternatively, you can also give the other person your card. Just say something like, “Here is my card. Do not hesitate to get in touch if you need some help with XYZ.” Exchanging cards is a standard signal that allows you to end the conversation on a warm note.
16. ASK TO CONNECT ON SOCIAL MEDIA
This is another great technique to let the other person know that the conversation is over, while at the same time showing that you would like to keep in touch.
The social media connection you request depends on the circumstances of your meeting as well as the kind of connection you would like to make with the person.
If you have met the person in a professional setting, you could ask to connect with them on LinkedIn. Simply say, “Thanks for your time. May I connect with you on LinkedIn?” If you have met in social settings, or if you want to make a personal connection, you could ask to connect on Facebook.
Asking before sending your connection/friend request also lowers the chances of your request getting rejected.
17. SUMMARIZE WHAT THEY SAID TO WRAP UP THE CONVERSATION
Summarizing what the other person has said signifies that the conversation is transitioning towards a conclusion, therefore your conversation partner won’t be caught off-guard when you state that you are leaving. Simply sum up the entire conversation or the last topic you talked about and then give an exit line.
For instance, if you have been talking about recent events in your lives, you could say, “It seems like a lot has been happening lately. We need to catch up a lot more often. Anyway, I have to go before the store closes. It was great bumping into you, Courtney.”
18. MAKE IT ABOUT THEM
Sometimes, the best way to end a conversation gracefully is to frame things in the other person’s point of view and make it sound like you are being considerate about them.
This way, they are less likely to feel like you are dumping them. For instance, you could say, “Let me not take up all your time. It was wonderful talking with you.” However, if you decide to use this tactic, you have to make sure it sounds sincere enough.
19. USE A PROP
Using a prop is another way to tactfully end a conversation.
For instance, if you are seated at your desk, pretend you have to reply to an email or finish working on something. If you were reading a book on a bus or a plane before the next person started a conversation, try shifting your focus back to the book.
If you are in a party, you could pretend that you have to go out to make a phone call. Using a prop is a great technique because it shows the other person that you have something else to do at the moment and do not have the time to talk.
20. INVITE THE PERSON TO JOIN YOU IN DOING SOMETHING
This is simply a nice way of excusing yourself from a conversation. Instead of excusing yourself because you have to do something, tell the other person what you need to do and invite them to do it with you.
For instance, if you want to meet someone else, you could say, “There goes today’s speaker. I’ve been looking for a chance to meet him all evening, and it looks like he’s finally free. Mind joining me?”
The other person will probably decline you offer. However, even if they take up your invitation, you have still found a way to end the conversation and do whatever it is you wanted to do.
21. END BY APPRECIATING THE OTHER PERSON
Regardless of whatever tactic you use to end the conversation, you should always end a conversation with a compliment.
Doing this allows you to end the conversation on a high note and allows you to leave the other person with a warm impression of your interaction.
You might choose to thank them for their time or expertise, or let them know that you enjoyed the conversation. Below are some examples of how to do this.
- “Thank you for sharing you insights. You have certainly been most helpful.”
- “I had a wonderful time talking to you.”
- “It was nice chatting with you. I hope to see you more often.”
It is inevitable that you will sometimes find yourself in boring conversations, or even in interesting conversations when you need to be doing something else. However, armed with the tactics shared in this article, you don’t have to get stuck in a conversation any more.
Whenever you find yourself in a conversation that you need to get out of, simply pick one of these tactics depending on the situation and use it to disengage yourself from the conversation without appearing rude to the other person.