10 polite ways to end a conversation that has run its course

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Have you ever found yourself stuck in a never-ending conversation? This could be on the phone or in person.

I certainly have. It usually happens with elderly people, but not always.

Just when you think the conversation is finally over and you say your goodbyes, the other person continues talking!

If you’re like me, you don’t want to be rude, but you’ve got other things to do. So how do you end the conversation politely?

Read on to find out:

1) “It’s been great catching up with you, but I really must get going now if I’m gonna catch my bus.”

When you bump into someone you haven’t seen in a while and don’t know how to end the conversation, a good way to do it politely is to let them know that you have a bus to catch (train, tram, etc.). You can also say a coworker is waiting to give you a ride home.

This way the other person won’t think you’re leaving because of them (even though you might be) but because you’ll miss your ride home.

2) “It’s been great chatting with you, we should do this again soon.”

No matter how engaging the conversation is, eventually, it has to end and you need to gracefully bow out.

Letting them know that you enjoyed the exchange (“great chatting with you”) and that you look forward to speaking to them again in the near future is a great way to end a conversation that has run its course.

3) “Wow, would you look at the time? I’ve had such a great time talking to you but I need to get going, it’s time to make dinner!”

It’s polite and it’s flattering to tell someone that you didn’t notice the time fly by because you enjoyed the conversation so much.

It’s late and you need to get home to make dinner, no one will hold that against you.

4) “I’m so glad I bumped into you. Wish I could stay and chat but I need to walk my dog or who knows what I’ll find when I get home”.

If you have a pet, don’t be scared to use them as an excuse to end a conversation.

I have two dogs and I take them with me to most places I go. And when I can’t, I try to leave them alone as short as possible.

So rushing home to your dogs is a pretty good reason to end a conversation. Plus you’re letting the person know you’re glad you saw them and that you regret not being able to spend more time with them.

5) “Oh no, my battery is running low.”

When you’re on the phone with someone who just won’t stop talking and your ear can no longer stand the heat of your cell phone, you need a good excuse to hang up.

And what better excuse than telling them that your phone is about to die?

They can’t argue with that and will let you go and charge your phone.

I’ve had to do this with my aunt on more than one occasion when the conversation went on for more than an hour. I didn’t hurt her feelings and I had a way to escape. Win-win.

6) “I’m so sorry I need to go take the chicken out of the oven before it burns.”

If you are making dinner and have a chicken that needs tending to, don’t be scared to use it as a way to end the conversation. You shouldn’t have to burn your meal just because you’re on the phone.

And what if there’s no ticket?

Well, I don’t like lying but a little white lie here and there never hurt anyone. They won’t know that there’s no chicken in the oven and it’s a perfectly polite and legitimate reason to hang up.

7) “Hey, I have to go, someone’s at the door”.

This is another great way to end a phone conversation.

After all, you need to go and see who it is and what they want, could be the postman, could be a neighbor, can’t ignore them

8) “I’ve got another call waiting. Thanks so much for your time, I’ll talk to you again soon.”

If you’ve ever been stuck in a business phone call that’s run its course and for some reason, you can’t seem to hang up, use this excuse.

You’re a busy person and it’s only normal that there’d be other people trying to get in touch with you.

9) “Please excuse me, I need to use the restroom. It was lovely to meet you!”

It’s easy to get cornered by a talker at a party.

Being the nice person that you are, you don’t want to be rude, but you absolutely need to escape!

The restroom excuse works every time, it’s polite and nobody can argue with a full bladder, now can they?

10) “Oh look, there’s my friend. I’ve gotta go say “hi”, it was great talking to you.”

Another great and polite way to end a conversation at a party or event.

Scan the room for someone you know and use them as an excuse to leave.

9) “It was great seeing you. I won’t hold you up any longer.”

If the person you’re talking to is someone you bumped into as they were shopping or on their way somewhere, this is a good technique for ending the conversation.

Instead of telling them you’ve got to go, you’re apologizing for keeping them from their activity.

The only problem with this one is that it doesn’t work with everyone. If someone is really eager to talk and doesn’t know when it’s time to stop, they may not get the gist and they’ll say, “Oh no, don’t worry, I’m in no rush!”  and then you’re in real trouble.

10) “Hey, I really enjoyed talking to you but I’ve gotta run.”

You don’t always have to give a detailed explanation to end the conversation. Sometimes it’s enough to let the other person you liked talking to them but you need to leave.

And if you really enjoyed talking to them, you can add, “Let’s meet up next week over drinks and continue this conversation, what do you say?”

Bottom line

Even if you don’t particularly like the person or find the conversation stimulating, there’s no reason to be rude and hurt someone’s feelings.

And with these 10 polite ways to end a conversation that has run its course, you’ll always have a way out.

Jelena Dincic

Jelena has a background in photography and film-making and has spent the last few years as a content editor and copywriter. Jelena is a citizen of the world who is passionate about travel and learning about new cultures. She’s a foodie who loves to cook. And, as an art lover, she is always experimenting with new art mediums. When she’s not at her computer, she’s usually out and about in some forest with her dogs.

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