6 Polite Ways to End a Conversation

Bound by manners and common decency, you can find it difficult to walk away from a conversation without seeming rude. With the help of etiquette experts, we have some solutions for your social scaries. Next time you feel trapped, remember these six tips. 

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Bring someone else into the conversation

Intercultural men interviewing young female in studioPressmaster/Shutterstock

No, this move doesn’t have to involve throwing one of your friends under the bus. You can introduce your conversational partner to an individual with a common interest or quality and hope that they hit it off. According to etiquette expert Jodi Smith, president of Mannersmith and author of From Clueless to Class Act, “the simplest way to leave someone who is monopolizing your time at a party is to pull someone else into the conversation. After a brief introduction, you are able to excuse yourself.” She gives us this conversational example of the technique in action: “Bob, have you met Suzy yet? Hey Suzy, Bob was just telling me about his pet ferret. Didn’t you have a ferret growing up? If you will excuse me.” Here are some more tips for making flawless small talk.

Tell the person you’ve enjoyed speaking with them

African couple shaking hands

If your acquaintance can’t tell that you’re eager to leave, try summarizing your conversation in hopes your exchange will come to a natural end. According to Jennifer Grant, a certified Business Etiquette, Personal Branding, and Image Coach, you can politely say: “Beverly, I have so enjoyed speaking with you and if you will excuse me, I have just seen a colleague/friend/another person that I need to speak with.” A farewell such as this one will make the other person feel appreciated and respected. It’s simple enough to have good manners, which is why you should stop making these etiquette mistakes by age 30. 

Excuse yourself

Two business partners having a casual discussion at cafe after work. Happy senior businessmen talking and smiling at a restaurant.Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

It’s important to remember that your time belongs to you, not whoever happens to be dominating a conversation with you. Jennifer L. Scott, New York Times bestselling author of Lessons from Madame Chic, suggests that you seize a momentary lull in the conversation to excuse yourself. “Use the refreshment table, the restroom, or the need to speak to the host/ hostess as a reason, if you feel you need to supply one,” says Scott. “Just make sure that after you leave the person, you actually go do the thing you excused yourself to do.”

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