6 Polite Ways To End a Conversation

Find out the best etiquette according to the experts.

Even the loveliest chat can turn sour if it goes on a hair too long. Everyone has been in a situation where you're stuck in a conversation that you need to escape for various reasons.

Sometimes you might need a moment to yourself to recuperate or have other pressing matters to attend to, so experts are sharing polite ways to end a tiresome conversation without being offensive. These practices help preserve your friendships and warn the people you speak with that you intend to make a courteous exit. Here are the best etiquette tips to graciously navigate ending a conversation without hurting feelings or ruffling feathers.

Two young women talking in living room
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Polite Conversation Endings Etiquette

How To Give Yourself an Out?

It's easier to end a conversation if you can physically remove yourself from it. If you're at a party, you can say something like, "I'm going to refresh my drink. May I get you anything?" Chances are, your conversational partner will decline your offer, and you're on your merry way.

Alternately, if you're on the way out of the party, you can say, "I've got to get home to take the dog out, but it's been so nice catching up." By offering up an (honest—this is key!) excuse for your exit, you're taking responsibility for why the conversation ends, and your conversation partner won't take your departure personally.

How To Give the Other Person an Out?

This practice should be reserved for conversations with a host, guest of honor, or the bride and groom, as anyone else may feel you're shifting responsibility for the interaction's end onto them. Something like this generally works well: "I know there are lots of other people who want to say hello/I know you're ready to hit the dance floor, but I just wanted to say thank you/best wishes/congratulations."

It is a considerate way to express your appreciation and well wishes, as it opens the door for the host/guest of honor/newlyweds to continue their necessary rounds guilt-free.

How To Invite Other People To Join the Conversation?

Introducing your conversation partner to someone else allows you to excuse yourself without leaving them standing alone. Ideally, the scenario will play out like this, "Have you met John? He went to Ole Miss too, and I think you were both in Oxford around the same time. Y'all should swap stories!" You can also ask them to introduce you to someone: "I've heard such amazing things about Laurie's new business. I'd love to ask him a few questions about it if you're up for making the introduction."

How To Close the Loop?

Bring the conversation back to the first subject discussed. For example, if the chat began with a realization that you both recently attended the same wedding, you can say something like, "What a small world that you know Mary Eliza too! I can't wait to tell her I met you." This phrasing gently but firmly indicates that the conversation is over and allows you to tie up loose ends.

How To Reference Future Plans?

If you and your conversation partner run in similar circles, either through work or socially, acknowledging a future event you'll be attending is another easy out: "Will you be at church on Sunday? We can chat about the baby shower then." Alternately, suppose you'd like to continue the conversation more immediately and won't be at any of the same events for the foreseeable future. In that case, you can ask for the other person's phone number or business card.

How To End a Conversation by Saying Something Kind?

Finally, even if the discussion has made you bored, exhausted, or so desperate for an exit that you've considered lighting your hair on fire, you still want to leave the other person with a positive impression of you. Find something in the conversation you appreciated, and express that as you end the chat: "I loved hearing about your trip to San Antonio, Sarah. I'll have to keep your recommendations in mind next time I go." Or something like, "Thank you for the smart advice on what to give my mother-in-law for her birthday! That will make shopping for her so much easier." A little gratitude and a sincere compliment go a long way.

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