How to End a Conversation with a Friend
Are you unsure how to end a conversation? Whether you’re talking one-on-one or in a group conversation, it can sometimes feel awkward knowing how to say goodbye.
Maybe you just ran into an old acquaintance at the grocery store. Or you’re on the telephone with a relative. Or you might even be at the water cooler with a work colleague or talking to a friend after class.
You have a vague feeling that you should know how to end the conversation, but the reality is that you really have no clue!
If you’re already a socially anxious person, this can make you feel more anxious. All of a sudden you’re overthinking about what to say and you’re not present in the moment anymore.
Or, you get so anxious that you just abruptly end the conversation, leaving the other person wondering what just happened.
Or, the conversation drags on much longer than it naturally should have because you just don’t know how to end it.
That’s not what you want! So what can you do instead?
Below are 6 easy steps to leave a conversation (no matter who you are talking with).
Physically Distance Yourself
The first step to ending a conversation is to create a bit of physical distance between yourself and the person or group you are talking to.
This is a body language signal that indicates to other people you are planning to leave. Execute this by turning yourself partially away and gradually pull back while you are still listening to what is being said.
If you happen to be sitting down, you can create distance by standing up or putting on a coat or jacket (if one is on the back of your chair). You can also create the feeling of distance by giving shorter answers to what is being said.
(Side note: Watch your body language if you don’t want to end a conversation! Socially anxious people tend to turn their bodies away and stand too far away. This sends the signal that you want to end the conversation right away).
Wait for a Break in Conversation
Okay, so you’ve created the feeling of leaving by creating a bit of physical distance. But now, do you just interject and start saying your goodbyes?
Ideally, the other person or group has picked up on the fact that you are getting ready to leave the conversation. The best thing to do is to wait for a break or pause in the conversation before saying goodbye.
Repeat What Was Just Said
Instead of abruptly changing the subject to the fact that you must go, it’s better to repeat or rephrase what was just said. This creates a smoother transition that makes everyone feel more comfortable.
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For example, if the other person was talking about their vacation, you could simply say: “It sounds like an amazing trip. I’d love to see photos of you whale watching.”
Give a Reason for Leaving
After you’ve physically distanced, waited for a gap in the conversation, and summarized what you were talking about, it’s time to actually end the conversation.
The easiest way to do this is to mention a reason for leaving.
For example, maybe you are at work and you mention a project you need to meet a deadline on.
“Sounds like you had a great weekend! Sorry I can’t chat longer, I’ve got this report due by the end of the day.”
Or, maybe you are at a party, and you need to refill your drink, use the restroom, or find someone else you needed to talk with.
“Nice talking to you! I’m going to try and catch Dave before he heads home.”
The reason doesn’t even have to be about you. You could say that you want to let the other person get back to what they were doing.
“Well, I’ll let you get back to your shopping. Hope to see you around!”
Or, you can be vague. This works on the phone too.
“Well, it’s been nice talking to you but I’ve got to get going.”
Make Future Plans
If you want to make your goodbye a little sweeter, you can add in a mention of future plans.
That might be as simple as saying, “hope to see you again soon!” or as complex as scheduling a meeting in a business setting.
And the easiest way to make future plans is to already have something set up. Think about it: how hard is it to say goodbye to your weekly yoga pals? Not that hard, because you know you’ll see them next week.
Turn and Leave
Yep, it’s time to just turn and leave (after the other person has acknowledged your goodbye).
If you’re hanging around waiting for someone to give you permission to go, it will just drag on longer. And if you look back after you leave, it suggests you weren’t sure about what you were doing after all.
Just go. Everyone has to end a conversation eventually. The other person isn’t thinking about it nearly as much as you think they are.
Most casual conversations don’t last more than 10 minutes. After that, you’re on the road to becoming friends.
How Do You End a Boring Conversation?
What about those sticky situations where there’s a wrinkle you hadn’t anticipated?
Maybe the other person has gone off on an uncomfortable tangent in the conversation. Or no matter what they do, you can’t seem to break away.
Or, what if you’re in a group conversation and there is no break to make your exit?
Sometimes it’s okay to quietly slip away or “ghost” a conversation. And sometimes it’s okay to try and change the topic to something less uncomfortable.
And it’s also okay to introduce someone to someone else as a way of escaping from a conversation. But remember, these tactics are for sticky situations. Otherwise, try to stick to the steps above.
What about you? Do you have trouble knowing how to end conversations? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
Do you need help brushing up on your social skills to make friends? Sign up to my free resource library where you’ll find free printable worksheets to help you.
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How to End a Conversation (in 6 Easy Steps)
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