Conversations are important – they are an integral part of building relationships whether in your business or personal life. One of the issues many have is how do you finish a conversation?
Knowing how to end the conversation is a great skill to learn. So how do you do it? Well, start by breaking the connection by edging and turning very slightly away from the person. Break eye contact deliberately; if you have been called look to that person, if it is getting late look towards the door if you just need to get away look to someone else. Follow this with holding out your hand for a final handshake and deliver your message.
In your final message, you politely indicate whether you wish to pursue this contact or not. If you would like to meet again be positive and appreciative “I really enjoyed talking to you, and hope we can meet again” said with a smile and sincerity may get the hoped-for response, but if not and you really would like to develop this contact, take a deep breath and say something like “Perhaps we could meet for coffee? I will be in the city on Friday if that’s convenient?” If you get a positive response, make a note to confirm by email on your return to the office.
However, what if you have been consumed with boredom, if you have not been able to find even one point of similarity? How to end the conversation without being positively rude? Well, the body language is the same except smile less and positively step away when holding out the hand. “I am sorry I must go and talk to … please excuse me.” usually does the trick.
Wait for a lull in the conversation. “Well.” “Okay.” “Anyway.” “So.” Such words emerge when a conversation has momentarily stalled. They’re turning points where either a new topic can be introduced, or the conversation may draw to a close. As such, they’re the perfect opportunity to begin to disengage. The speaker will say “So,” with an upward lilt in the voice, hopeful of the continuation of the conversation. You answer with a tone of more downbeat finality, “So.” And then you quickly transition into your exit line. “So, listen, it’s been great catching up with you…”
Bring the conversation around to the reason you connected in the first place. When possible, this makes for a smooth ending. Did the conversation start by you asking someone for their recommendation for a class to take? End with, “Well, I appreciate the tip. I’ll definitely try to get into that class during enrollment.” Did it start by someone asking you to take care of a problem at work? Close things out with, “So I appreciate you bringing this to my attention. I’ll definitely send Jim an email this afternoon to figure out what’s going on.”
Use an exit line. When it comes to what kind of exit line to use, be honest. Making up excuses is tempting, but it can come off as dishonest in the moment and lead to more trouble later if the truth gets out. Second, put the emphasis on what it is that you need to accomplish. This makes your exit seem less like a judgment of the other person – it’s not about them, there’s just something you need to do. Here are some examples of exit lines (likely prefaced by a, “Well…”):
I have a question I wanted to ask the speaker before he leaves.
I’ve got to get back to work. I’ve got a deadline I need to meet before noon.
I want to make sure to say hello to everyone here.
I made it a goal to meet three new people tonight.
I’m hoping to see the Romantic art exhibit before it closes.
If you initiated the conversation, but now want out, and there isn’t something you’re hoping to do, try a line that brings closure to a conversation by implying you’ve crossed something off your checklist (“just” is your friend here):
So, just wanted to make sure everything was okay.
Well, just wanted to see how the new job was going.
If the other person initiated the conversation, and did so to ask for help/advice, conclude things by asking:
Is there anything else I can help you with?
Is there anything else you needed?
Smile, shake hands and move onto the next conversation.
So to finish our conversation – Is there anything else I can help you with? I hope what has been shared has been useful and I will see you in the next blog post.
Multi International Award Winner Speaking Mentor Coach Author Radio Host
Trish typically works with introverts, authors and advocates helping them to have the confidence to step up and share their message with those who need to hear it.
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