I am frequently asked by my clients as to how they can leave a conversation without feeling awkward or rude.
I remember as a teenager being taught, “if someone calls you or approaches you, they should be the one to end the conversation.” But sometimes that just doesn’t happen! You probably know that feeling–when you can feel the energy start to drain, and even if you do try to revive it, you know deep down it is time for it to end. By taking the initiative to end the
conversation and leave, your conversation partner will probably be relieved. He or she may be thinking the same thing as you: “What do I say to end this conversation without seeming rude or awkward?”
There are four things to keep in mind when you decide to end it; either because the dialogue is struggling or because you have a time constraint and need to leave:
First, prepare the person that you are going to leave by saying something as simple as, “I need to run– it was so nice talking with you.” This lets them know the conversation is coming to an end.
Second, refer back to something that they told you in the conversation. For instance, if they mentioned that Kate (their daughter) is going off to college, you could say, “It was great to learn about Kate’s new upcoming adventure.” This lets the person know that you were listening to them.
Third, let them know you want to hear more stories from them the next time you visit. For example, if they mentioned they are going on a vacation soon, you could say, “I look forward to hearing about your trip the next time we talk.” This makes the other person feel cared for. Note: Only do this if it is authentic. If you have no desire to have a conversation in the future, leave this step out of the process.
Fourth, as you leave, be sure to be upbeat with your smile and tone of voice. This nicely wraps what you say into a positive and congruent package.
Just as you would never want to wear out your welcome at someone’s home, treat conversations with the same courtesy. Don’t be tempted to stay and “camp out” once the energy is declining. Instead, make the decision to take the initiative and end it. It may feel awkward if you’ve never done this, but if you incorporate these four actions, you will leave your conversation partner feeling valued and heard.