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62 Ways to Politely End a Conversation In ANY Situation

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There is a secret art to ending a conversation gracefully.

Most people are concerned about making a great first impression, but how about a great last impression?

Your last impression is as important as your first impression.

Knowing how to end a conversation or exit an awkward interaction is an undervalued people skill everyone should know.

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My Mega-Awkward Story

Has this ever happened to you? I was at a networking event chatting with a potential client. It was going superbly! We were laughing about crazy uncles and reminiscing about favorite family vacation spots. He handed me his card and said to give him a call to talk about a lunch speaking event on lie detection—hooray! And then… it was time to say goodbye. The conversation was wrapping up, but neither of us quite knew how to end it, so we teetered around the impending exit saying things like, “ok, great” and “sounds good” and “ok, great” again. Eventually we fumbled for a last handshake and then began to move off in the exact same direction.

Bah! Did I blow it? Did my horrible exit ruin my graceful entrance?

This post is all about how to end a conversation in ANY situation you find yourself in:

  • in casual conversations
  • at a networking event
  • on the phone
  • during a video call
  • in the office
  • in emergency situations

But first, how do we know exactly WHEN to end a conversation?

How to Know When to End the Conversation

A Conversation Ender is a graceful way to end any interaction.

Most good conversations look a little something like this:

This graph shows how most good conversations end after the "lull" period.

A good conversation can turn sour when it fizzles. This is when a positive conversation loses steam and just slowly…awkwardly…dies out. You know it’s time to end a conversation when:

  • You are bored.
  • They look bored.
  • Someone or something interrupts.
  • You have run out of things to say.
  • You (or they) are starting to repeat themselves.
  • You need a break.

But if you really want to do it like the masters of conversation, you want to end it on the high note. Instead of ending it when the conversation gets to the “lull” stage, you want to end it slightly after the interactions hits its peak:

This graph shows how great conversations end on a high note.

And it’s HARD. Nobody wants to stop the fun and be the party-pooper! But ending conversations on a high note keeps the levels of excitement high and potentially avoids an awkward end to a conversation.

And here’s the key: You have to exit, right? The best way to exit a conversation depends on your “impact level.”

Impact Level: The level of impact, or positive emotion, your exit has on the overall conversation.

Your conversation ender is your last chance to change the overall feel of the conversation.

The impact level of your conversation ender can:

  1. greatly increase rapport with your conversation partner
  1. increase it slightly or maintain positive emotions
  1. or in the most awkward of moments… destroy your chances of leaving a positive impact ever again
This infographic shows how your conversation ender can increase the positive emotions, keep it the same, or end your chances of rapport completely.

How to End a Casual Conversation

These conversation enders are perfect to use in most situations:

  • with acquaintances and friends
  • during parties and other social gatherings
  • during random conversations with strangers

Starting with…

#1: Bring up future plans

“Have a wonderful time with your XYZ plans!”

Ask them if they have any plans either this weekend or after the event. This puts them in future mode so they are primed to talk about future things (like ending the conversation). It’s also a great opportunity to get to know their hobbies or what they like to do in their free time.

Impact level: Medium

#2: Make a plan together

“I’d love to continue our chat over lunch together!”

Do you want to get coffee on the books or grab lunch together? This is a perfect way of showing continued mutual interest in each other.

Impact Level: High

#3: Gaze into the distance

People listening spend most of their time looking at the speaker. A good way to let the speaker know you’re not so interested is averting your gaze, looking around at the environment. Most of the time, they’ll pick up on this cue.

Impact Level: Low

#4: Use one more thing

“Another thing I wanted to mention before I go is…”

This is another great way to avoid being rude, but also extend the conversation a bit longer.

Impact Level: Medium

#5: Check in with the host

“I just realized I haven’t said hello to the host yet! I should go now. Great speaking to you!”

Mention that you need to catch up with the host of the event. If it’s a big venue, this can even boost your social status and perceived popularity.

Impact Level: Medium

#6: Point your toes towards the door

Most people know that when your feet are pointing towards the exit, you want to be anywhere but here. Luckily, most people pick up on this cue.

Impact Level: Medium

#7: Distance yourself

Back up, slowly. One step at a time. Not only does this make it harder to communicate, but they’ll likely get the idea.

Impact Level: Medium

#8: Recall a story

“I’m so glad we met. Thanks for sharing that story; it was so relatable. It’s been great!”

Did they mention a funny / awesome / awkward / great story that’s memorable? Bringing it up keeps the emotions high and is an easy way to appreciate the other person.

Impact Level: High

#9: Rephrase the last thing they said

“Oh, so you have a really nice work office. That’s really amazing! Wish we could talk more, but I need to run soon.”

This technique is especially useful for those who seem to talk endlessly. 

Impact Level: Low

#10: Check your watch

“I just noticed the time! It’s getting a bit late. It was a pleasure meeting you!”

A more direct method, this one is a clear giveaway. The other person may immediately pick up on this cue, or you can be more obvious by stating the time.

Impact Level: Low

#11: Include a time constraint

“I have to go in a few minutes, but I’d love to listen to one more story.”

This is a more subtle version of the one above. Implement a deadline to the conversation so both of you have a few more minutes to wrap things up.

Impact Level: Medium

#12: Excuse yourself

“Please, excuse me…”

You don’t actually have to mention why you want to excuse yourself. It could be you need to talk to someone else. Or you’ve got somewhere to go. Or maybe even you’ve got a bad case of the runs. Either way, you’ve made your intention clear, and the “why” part can be left ambiguous.

Impact Level: Low

#13: Talk to a friend or acquaintance

“Oh, there’s my friend over there! It’s been a pleasure talking with you, but I should catch up with him.”

If you see someone you’re familiar with, go after them! This can boost your status, since you show you have friends. On the flip side, this might insinuate that someone else is more important or exciting than them, which is why you’re leaving in the first place.

Impact Level: Medium

#14: The friend mention

“I gotta go, but tell your mom / friend / acquaintance I said hi!”

Is your friend not here to save the day? No worries—if you two have a mutual acquaintance or friend, simply tell your conversation partner you said hi to them the next time they see them.

Impact Level: Medium

#15: Leave them to what they were doing

“Nice chatting with you! I’ll leave you to do your shopping now.”

This is a very useful technique if you interrupted someone doing an activity before engaging in the conversation.

Impact Level: Low

#16: Give them a handshake

Did you know a handshake can be used to end a conversation, not only start one? Extend your hand out and wait for them to accept it. This is also a great way to inject a little more oxytocin into the conversation before leaving.

Impact Level: High

#17: Find an environment cue

“Wow, I just saw the clock and realized how late it is! We should catch up later.”

Scan the environment and take inspiration. It can be anything—even the food on the table reminding you to cook dinner.

Impact Level: Low

#18: Take a seat

“Hey, it’s been a long day of standing! I’m going to go take a seat for now. It’s been great meeting you!”

A perfect way to escape if it’s been a long day. On the downside, this also commits you to actually sitting down for a while, potentially making you miss out on some action or keeping you glued to the seating section.

Impact Level: Low

#19: Go home

“Wow, is it getting late out. I’ve got to get home before my boyfriend gets worried!”

It’s late out, you have to cook for your significant other, you’ve got bills to pay—as long as your excuse is believable (better if it’s true), go for it! Make sure to actually go home, though. Back in my college days, I used this excuse at a networking event… only to meet the exact same person an hour later at the restaurant next door. Awkward!

Impact Level: Low

#20: Politely make a phone call

“I’d love to continue talking, but I have to make a phone call right now. Can we talk later?”

Is it late? Can you call your mom or best friend? This works if you actually have someone you can talk to. If not, there are other ways (see next tip)…

Impact Level: Low-Medium

#21: The email follow-up

“I had fun talking to you! I will be sure to shoot you an email.”

No, this conversation ender doesn’t only work in the 1990s. You can still email people today!

Impact Level: High

#22: Give Thanks

“Thanks for chatting! Goodbye now, I have to go.”

This is the simplest way to politely exit a conversation. The key is to make strong eye contact and say it in a sincere way. You can be very honest in your intentions and also come across as very sincere.

Impact Level: Medium-High

How to End a Conversation At a Networking Event

So you’re at a networking event. Great! What’s the best way to make sure you’re remembered? Here are 12 ways you can leave a lasting impression.

#23: Show your go-getter attitude

“I promised myself I would get at least 3 cards tonight, so I’m going to make some rounds—wish me luck!”

When people go to networking events, they want to meet people who take action. Showing that you have a goal boosts your impression and shows you’re an action-taker, not just a talker. You may even be able to seek out new people together!

Impact Level: High

#24: Give them your business card

“Here’s my business card. Great to meet you!”

Got a dazzling new business card you want to show off? Giving away your business card is one of the best ways to make a lasting impression on your conversation partner. Especially if it’s unique, creative, and captivating.

Impact Level: Very High

#25: Ask for their business card

“I would love your business card for the future. It was nice meeting you!”

You can also ask for their business card in return.

Impact Level: High

#26: Follow up on their product

“It was lovely chatting with you. I will be sure to follow up on your course / blog / product!”

Does the other person have something they are promoting? Show your interest in them by stating your desire to follow up with their product after your conversation! It also gives you an excuse to connect with them after the networking event.

Impact Level: Very High

#27: State your reason

“It’s time for me to go now, but again, I really love that tie you’re wearing!”

Is there a reason you went up to someone and talked to them in the first place? Perhaps it was a nice suit or a captivating smile that caught your attention. Using this exit, you can compliment them and make them feel important.

Impact Level: High

#28: Ask where the bathroom is

“Do you know where the bathroom is?”

I try not to use this one because the other person might think you’re copping out. But if you have to, it’s always an option.

Impact Level: Low

#29: Ask them about a future event

“Are you going to that networking event next week?”

Ask them if you will see them at a future networking event. If they’re going, great! You can catch up at the next event. If they don’t know about it, this is a great chance to invite them!

Impact Level: High

#30: Exchange social media accounts

“I’d love to keep in touch! Do you have a LinkedIn account?”

You can even send them a message after the event to reconnect with him or her! Before doing this strategy, make sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-par.

Impact Level: High

#31: Ask them for introductions

“Have you met any other people here that you’d recommend me to meet?”

I use this one a lot at networking events—it’s a great conversation ender and an opportunity to jump into conversation with other people at the event!

Impact Level: High

#32: Introduce them to another person

“Have you met Samantha? She’s also into website development and works at one of the largest companies in LA! Let me introduce you two.”

You can even take this the other way. If you’ve mingled already or know someone else they can meet, you can act as the connector and help your conversation partner form new relationships!

Impact Level: Very High

#33: Grab a drink

“I’m going to grab a drink, do you want me to bring you one?”

90% of the time, the answer will be no. On the off chance they want you to bring a drink, you can go ahead and fetch them one and say “well, it was nice meeting you!”

Impact Level: Low-Medium

#34: Be considerate of their time

“I’d love to chat some more, but I’m sure there are others you want to talk to.”

Let’s face it. If you’re at a networking event, both of you know time’s precious and you’re both there to mingle. Being considerate of the other person’s time shows your honesty and lets you both get on with your day.

Impact Level: High

How to End a Conversation At Work

Are you dealing with one of the following:

  • an annoying coworker
  • a boss that doesn’t stop talking
  • a manager that just doesn’t know how to… manage?

Fear no more. Here are 7 ways to get out of any work situation you find yourself in.

#35: Move to the door handle

Slowly walk to the door of your office, if you have one. Put your hand on the handle as if about to open it. Most people will pick up on this and know  you want them to leave.

Impact Level: Medium

#36: Walk them to their office

If they are still talking, they may have a natural urge to sit down in their own chair. If they do, this is your cue to leave!

Whatever you do, don’t lead them to your office unless you have a door. This might feel like an invitation to them that you’ve “welcomed” them to your own space—then you’d be stuck in a dead-end until they leave!

Impact Level: Medium

#37: Play catch-up

“I should head back to the computer and catch up on my project now. It was nice talking to you!”

You’re busy and working, right? You’ve got big projects to work on, and so does your colleague.

Impact Level: Medium

#38: Write some emails

“I’ve got a ton of emails to catch up on. Let’s talk later!”

Do you have a ton of emails to catch up on? Weeks’ worth, maybe? Don’t let that email list catch up to you!

Impact Level: Low-Medium

#39: Plan lunch together

“Hey, it’s been great talking to you. Why don’t we continue our conversation over lunch?”

This one’s great if you want to extend your conversation, but have an immediate priority or task you want to accomplish. If you have free time during lunch, you can plan to continue your lunch with your colleague without dismissing them altogether.

Impact Level: High

#40: Bring up their schedule

“It looks like you’ve got a tight schedule ahead of you, I’ll let you go for now.”

Does your work buddy have something to do? You can kindly remind them of their work and move on with your day.

Impact Level: Low

#41: The key jangle

Take out your keys and jangle them in your hand, or play with them if they’re in your pocket. Everyone knows the sound of keys jangling, and most people will know you want to go!

Impact Level: Low

How to End a Conversation During a Video Call

Are video calls the bane of your existence? You might be super introverted. Or you may not know how to best optimize your video calls for maximum enjoyment.

Either way, here’s how to end a video call so you can get on with the rest of your day.

#42: Finish the agenda

“It looks like we’ve finished everything on the agenda. Thanks for the video call!”

A more direct way to end things, this approach shows that you’re on your A-game when it comes to keeping track on the agenda. It also potentially avoids a lot of awkward guesses if anyone else has something to contribute.

Impact Level: High

#43: Use the standard way

“That’s all I have today. Do you have anything else?”

This one’s super-standard, but works for a reason. Mention that you’re done with everything and also ask if everyone else is done. Confirm and exit.

Impact Level: Medium

#44: Find the answers

“I’d love to get those answers to you as soon as possible. I’m going to hop off now, but you can expect an email later today / this week!”

A great way to show attentiveness and drive, this method impresses bosses and works especially well for those with a go-getter personality.

Impact Level: High

#45: Bring up your deadline

“Wow, I can’t believe it’s already [time]. Do you mind if I hop off now and finish up [project]?”

This is another way to show that you value time and you care about your team’s deadlines.

Impact Level: High

#46: Avoid information overload

“Thanks for the productive meeting! I know that’s a lot of information for one session. Let’s save the rest for our next video call.”

Some meetings can drag on and on, and even cause Zoom fatigue. If you’re in one of these video calls, it might be time to give your brain a break and save it for the next one.

Impact Level: Medium

#47: Bring up their last idea

“Wow, that’s a great idea! I would love to see the finished result later on. In the meantime, I know you’re busy these days, so I’ll let you get back to it. It was nice talking to you!”

A lot of video calls are about ideas—which, hopefully, will be implemented with success later on. Take one of these ideas and wish the other person luck!

Impact Level: Medium

#48: Follow-up

“Thanks for the productive meeting! It was a pleasure talking to you. I’ll make sure to follow-up by email / sending over that report / another video call.”

If you’ve got a lot of to-do items on your list from the video call already, you might want to end it early so you can start tackling them. Tell them you’ll follow up later, and make sure to actually follow through.

Impact Level: Medium

#49: Mention another call

“I’ve got another phone call in 10 minutes. It’s been great talking with you!”

This one shows you are busy and value your time.

Impact Level: Medium

How to End a Conversation On the Phone

You’ve prepared and warmed up your speaking voice for the call, and now it’s time to end it. What do you do?

  • Hang up the phone without a word.
  • Scream, “OK, GOTTA GO BYE!”
  • Chuck your phone out the window.

Don’t worry! Phone anxiety is real and knowing how to end a phone call will help you immensely.

When ending a phone conversation abruptly, the key is to mention that YOU will call back later, not them. This prevents unnecessary “surprise” phone calls and makes sure you can hop on call whenever you’re prepared.

#50: Go back to the agenda

“It looks like we’ve covered everything we wanted to talk about. Thanks for calling, I’ll talk to you next time!”

Finished everything on the agenda? Time to end the call professionally by taking the initiative.

Impact Level: High

#51: Mention another call

“I’ve got another phone call in 10 minutes. It’s been great talking with you!”

Similar to the video call conversation ender, except in phone call form!

Impact Level: Medium

#52: Blame your battery

“My phone is about dead right now, but it was great talking over the phone with you!”

Is your phone dying? Even if it’s not, nobody can tell. If you don’t know how to end a call, this technique is a safe bet.

Impact Level: Medium

#53: Get some groceries

The grocery store is closing soon, I’ve got to make a run real quick!”

You eat. They eat. Everyone eats. And everyone needs groceries!

Impact Level: Low

#54: Use your shoes

“I’ve got my shoes on already, I’m about to get out of the house. Can we talk later?”

They’ll get it—you’re busy. You’re only picking up the phone out of politeness, so casually say you’re going out. 99% of the time, they won’t stop you!

Impact Level: Low

#55: Drive on

“It’s a little hard to talk now, I’m driving. Can I call you back later?”

This one works on short conversations, so it’s probably not ideal to use when you’ve already been talking for an hour.

Impact Level: Low

#56: Mention the bad connection

“Hey, hello? Helloooo? Are you there? I can’t hear you; you’re breaking up. I’ll call you later!”

We’ve all faced a bad call before, and we know the struggles of having that perfect connection.

Impact Level: Low

#57: Take a #2

“I’m on the toilet! Not the best time to call right now.”

Here’s the stinkiest conversation ender in the entire article. I don’t recommend this one except for the nastiest of telemarketers or frenemies.

Impact Level: Very Low

How to End a Conversation Through Email

Luckily, email is a format which doesn’t require an overly-graceful exit. Yet most people still don’t know what to write to sign off their email conversation.

#58: Use an email sign-off

Here are some examples of common email sign offs you can use:

A chart of warm vs. competent email sign-offs

For more tips on how to craft a perfect professional email, read our guide here: 17 Professional Email Tips to Craft Your Next Email (With Templates!)

How to End a Conversation in an Emergency Situation

So, you’ve ended up here. It’s the final straw, and nothing else has worked. It’s time to end that conversation at all costs.

#59: Give them the hand

Put your hand up, as if signalling them to stop talking. This can be incredibly rude, so only use this as a last resort option!

#60: Use the clap

The clap is something I would avoid unless the other person can’t stop talking! Clapping once is a strong nonverbal way to say, “Hey, it’s my turn to talk!” You can also say something along the lines of “Well, it was nice talking to you, but I have to go now!” to soften the blow.

#61: Make a fake phone call

“It looks like my girlfriend / boyfriend is calling me! I should take this.”

Don’t have a friend to rely on? No problem! There are fake call apps you can download on your phone to imitate a real phone call. You can even record a message and have that exact message play back to you during the fake phone call! I’d only recommend this one in extreme situations.

#62: The single best conversation ender (thanks Mom)

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I’ve been saving the best for last…

There’s one conversation ender that I found builds the most rapport and leaves the biggest lasting impression. 

And best of all, this phrase was told to me by my own mother! She’s used it at parties, barbecues, and even networking events to build the most lasting of friendships.

Here it is:

“It’s been so great talking to you. I’m going to remember you.”

BOOM! When I heard this, my mind was blown.

It checks off all these boxes:

  • compliments the other person
  • makes them feel liked
  • makes them feel memorable

This is by far my favorite conversation ender and the one I use the most when I want to make the best last impression.

The Science of Conversation Enders

On a more science-y note, here’s what to look out for when someone wants to end a conversation.

Verbal cues: Purdue University researchers analyzed the final 45 seconds of interactions and found the 3 most frequent verbal behaviors that indicated a desire to leave:

  • “Reinforcement”—Short, uttered phrases like “yeah,” and “uh-huh”
  • “Buffing”—Transition words like “well,” and “uh”
  • “Appreciation”—Words such as “It was really nice talking with you.”

This study suggests people like to give “warning signs” before ending a conversation. Since ending a conversation can be seen as negative, we also soften the blow by adding in a little bit of appreciation and support at the end of the conversation.

Nonverbal cues: The University of Washington observed the final 15 seconds of interactions and found that people tend to shift their posture in the moments right before a conversation ends—in particular, most participants shifted their weight more on one leg, as if to signal a “readiness to depart.”

Make Great Conversation

Ending a conversation is one part of great conversations overall. But what’s next?

Time to take your conversation game even further and develop your personal growth using this ultimate self-improvement toolbox. Here’s a free goodie for that:

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Do you struggle with small talk? Do you often run out of things to say or feel awkward and self-conscious in social situations?

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A Bad Dessert Can Ruin the Meal

Finally, I want to leave you a quote I found that really sums up the importance of a conversation ender:

A bad dessert can ruin the meal.

If you think about an entire conversation as a meal, with the conversation-ender as the dessert, then you absolutely have to treat the conversation-ender with high importance. After all, if your 5-course meal at the Marriott ends with a crappy dessert, what kind of impression will you have of the entire meal?

"A bad dessert can ruin the meal" graphic

Anyway, it’s been a pleasure talking with you! I know you’ve got a busy schedule ahead of you, so feel free to check out this amazing article: How to Have and Hold Dazzling Conversation With Anyone: We Review 11 Science Backed Steps

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13 Essential Tips for Politely Ending a Conversation
13 Essential Tips for Politely Ending a Conversation