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5 Best Ways to End a Conversation

Two women talking outside as they end their conversation


By John Millen

My family and I recently went camping on private land beside a vineyard in the Western United States. Every evening and morning the owner, whose family had farmed the land for generations, would wander up to our campsite to chat.

On our first night, as we sat around the campfire, I stood up and walked over to talk with this friendly man. I sat on the bench across from him on our picnic table.  I’m always anxious to hear people’s stories and it was fascinating to learn of his family’s history on this land.

After about 15 minutes I sensed that I should rejoin my family so I said, “Well, thanks for sharing the great stories about your family and this beautiful land.” He paused for a moment, took a drag on his cigarette, then said, “It’s been a long journey” and started sharing more history. 

Later, when we were making s’mores on the fire, my family kept repeating “It’s been a long journey” and laughing at how oblivious our host was to my closing signal.

I finally stood up from the table and, while slowly backing up to my family, I again thanked him for stopping by. He finally stood up and wished us a good evening.

It got me thinking about the fine art of ending a conversation.

Whether you're engaging in a casual chat with a friend or wrapping up a business meeting, knowing how to gracefully end a conversation is an essential aspect of building positive relationships.

Just as a well-executed introduction sets the tone, a thoughtful conclusion leaves a lasting impression. So, let's delve into the art of gracefully ending a conversation, a skill that can truly elevate your social interactions.

Here are five ways to help you master the art of conversation endings:

1. The time-conscious approach

Being mindful of time is crucial when ending a conversation. If you're in a situation where you or your conversation partner have time constraints, it's essential to express your understanding and wrap up the discussion promptly. 

My goto line, whether in person or online, is to say “I want to be respectful of your time” and ask them if there’s anything else we should share at this point.

(If you're a person who tends to overshare you might want to read my 5 Ways to Stop Talking So Much.)

2. The grateful farewell

Expressing gratitude is a universally appreciated way to wrap up a conversation. A heartfelt thank-you can leave a positive and lasting impression. 

For instance, "Thanks for sharing your experiences with me. I really appreciate your perspective" conveys that you found value in your talk. By emphasizing the positive impact of the exchange, you end on a high note.

3. Non-verbal cues

Sometimes, actions speak louder than words. As with my camping experience, your body language and tone of voice can convey your intent to conclude a conversation gracefully. 

Gradually slowing down your speech, maintaining eye contact, and giving a warm smile can signal that you're reaching a natural endpoint. These kinds of non-verbal cues can enhance the overall impression of your conversation exit.

4. End with a positive remark

Leaving a conversation on a positive note can leave a lasting impact. One of the most gracious ways to end a conversation is by offering a genuine compliment and expressing your interest in future interactions. 

A statement like, "I've really enjoyed our conversation. Your insights are really helpful. Let's definitely continue this conversation over coffee sometime," not only acknowledges the value of the exchange but also leaves the door open for further engagement. 

This approach shows respect for the other person's contribution and plants the seed for future connections.

5. Practice empathy

Above all, the cornerstone of graceful conversation endings is empathy. Put yourself in the shoes of your conversation partner and consider how you'd like to feel when a discussion wraps up. 

Treat others with the same respect and consideration you would expect. This mindset will guide you toward endings that leave everyone involved feeling valued and heard.

Incorporating any of these five approaches can enhance your ability to navigate the delicate process of concluding an interaction while maintaining the connection you've established. 

Remember, the way you conclude a conversation often lingers longer in memory than the content of the conversation itself.

As you master this skill, you'll find that your relationships will grow stronger and your professional interactions will become more meaningful.

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John Millen

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