Like common sense, courtesy is not as prominent as it once was. Nevertheless, gentle social behavior remains a part of getting along with others. Even when a conversation is interesting, you sometimes have to end it before the other person is ready. Here are some ways to depart a conversation gracefully.
- Carefully observe body language. Signs the other person is ready to leave include a wandering gaze, a small step away from you, and increasingly shorter responses to what you say. Other behaviors telling you they want to go are putting things in a bag or putting on a jacket or sweater.
- Wait for a pause and offer a handshake. As the other responds, say, “It was great talking with you” or “I have a few more things to do, but I enjoyed our conversation. See you later.”
- Offer an apology. “I don’t want to keep you any longer/I can see you’re busy, but it was good to see you.”
- Say you have to leave. You can say, “I’m sorry, but I have some things I have to get done today.” Remain polite, but firm.
- Smile and say goodbye. This will communicate you’re friendly. You could add something about being happy you’ve had a chance to talk.
- If you want to see the other person again, suggest meeting in the near future. Be specific. “How about next Wednesday morning?” is better than “We’ll have to get together soon.”
Need to Know Phrases
It was great talking with you.
I have a few more things to do, but I enjoyed our conversation. See you later.
I don’t want to keep you any longer.
I can see you’re busy, but it was good to see you.
I’m sorry, but I have some things I have to get done today.
How about next Wednesday morning?
I’m afraid I’ve lost track of the time.
I promised I’d meet my (insert significant other’s name or relationship); Gotta run.
I don’t want to keep you.
This was fun, but I’m running late.
I wish we could talk some more, but I have to go.
- Do you find it difficult or easy to end a conversation? Why?
- What is the hardest thing about ending a conversation?
- Are some people more difficult than others? Why?
- What phrases do you use when ending a conversation? Are they effective?
- Are you good or bad at reading other people’s cues? Discuss.
- Have you ever continued with a conversation because you did not know how to end it? Explain what happened?